Although two members of the UCLA women’s tennis team are out because of illnesses, the Bruins persevered.
Without No. 16 sophomore Ena Shibahara and No. 76 junior Alaina Miller, No. 17 UCLA (1-0) defeated the unranked UC Santa Barbara 4-2 after squandering the doubles point.
No. 119 redshirt sophomore Jada Hart emerged victorious on court one in singles and doubles despite a cold.
In doubles, Hart and her partner No. 100 senior Terri Fleming failed to capitalize on a 4-2 lead as they eventually capitulated to the UCSB senior duo of Palina Dubavets and Natalie Da Silveira 6-4 in the deciding doubles matchup.
“We started off pretty strong in doubles, but unfortunately, let key points get away from us,” Hart said. “We weren’t getting the first serve percentages that we wanted and weren’t closing off our volleys.”
In her first time playing on court one for singles, Hart hardly looked out of place as she raced out to a 6-2 first set win against Dubavets.
“I had the mindset of playing the best I could despite being sick and hopefully getting on and off the court as quick as I can,” Hart said.
With the Bruins leading the Gauchos 3-2 and freshman Abi Altick, who was also battling an illness, down a set on court two, the pressure was on Hart. She managed to take two consecutive games at the end to win the match 6-2, 7-5 and give the Bruins their first win of the season.
Her teammates watched from the adjoining court and celebrated together after a Dubavets’ forehand flew wide.
“(Hart) was awesome,” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “She embraced playing the No. 1 position and was striking the ball really well. She showed no signs of fear or uncertainty and really believes in herself, which is what you want from your athletes.”
Three Bruins made their debut for the team – junior transfer Ayan Broomfield in doubles and singles, freshman Sophie Bendetti in doubles, and Altick in singles.
Broomfield put on a strong performance garnering victories in both her matches. She only played on either court one or two in singles for Clemson last year but played on court three to kick off UCLA’s season.
She was responsible for the first point the Bruins put on the board after making quick work of Gauchos’ senior Amanda Atanasson 6-2 and 6-1.
“It was extremely fun,” Broomfield said. “I love playing, I love competing and I love being out there.”
The place she was referring to is the Los Angeles Tennis Center, the UCLA women’s tennis team’s primary facility since 1997. Yet, today was the first time in 650 days that the Bruins played a game there.
During the 650-day period, home games were played at the Sunset Canyon Recreation Center tennis courts, because of construction of the Mo Ostin Basketball Center and the Wasserman Football Center.
“It felt like being back at home,” Sampras Webster said. “This is what we are used to and this is where we want to play, so it felt very comfortable and exciting to be back.”