Playing a match requires consistent mental and physical energy from start to finish.
For the UCLA women’s tennis team, its challenge was sustaining this energy through not one match, but two.
Saturday, No. 20 UCLA played a doubleheader, defeating Saint Mary’s (0-2) 5-0 and following with a 4-0 win over UC Santa Barbara (0-4). Coach Stella Sampras Webster was excited for the back-to-back matches, and felt her team’s strength throughout.
“I was kind of excited, to tell you the truth,” Sampras Webster said. “Just to see how our team would do playing two matches in one day. It’s not what they normally do. I was curious how they would do physically, and I think they did a really good job preparing for both matches.”
Reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week redshirt freshman Jada Hart finished the day with four wins, defeating Saint Mary’s Jana McCord and Parminder Kaur, and UCSB’s Stefani Stojic and Palina Dubavets with freshman Ena Shibahara. She also earned wins in singles against Kareena Manji of the Gaels, and Stefani Stojic of the Gauchos. The doubleheader didn’t affect Hart, as she had a confident mentality through both matches.
“I was expecting a long day, and I was getting myself mentally prepared to play a lot of matches,” Hart said. “I just tried to make sure that I was on and off the court quickly so I could save my body.”
Fourth-ranked Shibahara added to UCLA’s strong showing, taking down McCord and Dubavets both in straight sets. For Shibahara, it was all about keeping the energy maintained through both matches.
“I feel like we all have a lot of energy and we know that we’re going to use that energy in every match,” Shibahara said. “I think we did a really good job trying not to overuse it so that we didn’t get tired towards the end.
Following a doubles loss against Georgia Tech on Jan. 29, the Bruins looked to come out strong. Cleaning up small errors and serving big were areas that sought improvement, Hart said, and these factors helped them win both doubles points.
Playing patiently and serving strong were aspects that brought home the wins for UCLA, according to the players.
“I think I did pretty well in my singles (matches) to work the point, setting it up so that I could come into the net,” Shibahara said. “I really focused on every point and getting the returns back, because both my opponents had huge serves. I just focused on holding my serve, and I thought that was key for my matches.”
The entire lineup for the Bruins supplied points against both opponents.
Junior Terri Fleming contributed with a singles win against Natalie Da Silveira of UCSB, and took home a win in doubles against Clementine Clement and Emma Critser of Saint Mary’s with sophomore Alaina Miller.
Miller also finished the day with a singles win against Danielle McIntyre of Saint Mary’s, as did sophomore Gabby Andrews, who clinched the Saint Mary’s match with her win against Kaur.
Andrews and junior Kristin Wiley also had a doubles win, taking down UCSB’s Jaimee Gilbertson and Natalie Da Silveira.
Throughout each match, a constant factor for UCLA was the team spirit. Keeping a positive attitude and cheering each other on, the team felt, contributed to winning.
“I really enjoyed the spirit of this team and getting to see the energy,” Sampras Webster said. “It’s neat to hear all of them cheering each other on and encouraging each other as they’re competing. It’s fun to play with a team like this.”
The Bruins look to continue their winning record at home against No. 17 Miami on Friday.