Friday, February 28

Women’s tennis begins Pac-12 season with Bay breakeven

After coming off a singles loss against Stanford on Friday, Jada Hart defeated her California opponent in three sets on Saturday to help the UCLA defeat Cal. UCLA is now 1-1 to start conference play. (Alice Naland/Daily Bruin)

UCLA women’s tennis left the Bay with a 1-1 record, falling to Stanford for the third year in a row.

The No. 13 Bruins (9-2, 1-1 Pac-12) dropped their first conference match to the Cardinal (6-3, 2-0 Pac-12) 4-3 but defeated the California Bears (5-4, 1-1 Pac-12) by the same score.

“It obviously does suck a little bit to have a split weekend, knowing that we had our opportunities against Stanford,” said redshirt sophomore Jada Hart.

Coach Stella Sampras Webster credited UCLA’s loss to Stanford’s ability to hang onto matches and force errors.

“You can never count Stanford out,” Sampras Webster said. “They just kept us out there and just kept bringing balls back. If we had executed better, we would have had the win.”

Sampras Webster has been focusing on adjusting doubles pairings since her team struggled to secure the doubles point early in the season. Her efforts paid off this weekend as UCLA earned the doubles point in both matches.

Against Stanford, the doubles point came down to court one, with No. 22 Hart and senior Terri Fleming upsetting No. 3 Emily Arbuthnott and Michaela Gordon 6-4. Hart was familiar with the duo, having lost to them in the ITA Fall Championships with partner junior Gabby Andrews in a three-set tiebreaker.

“I was definitely looking forward to this match, wanting revenge from the fall national championships,” Hart said. “We just came off the bat playing aggressively at the net.”

While focusing on the doubles point got the Bruins off to early leads, they won only five of 12 singles matches over the weekend.

On court one, No. 8 Ena Shibahara was upset in both of her matches, falling 6-2, 3-6, 3-6 to No. 17 Michaela Gordon of Stanford and then 3-6, 4-6 to No. 68 Julia Rosenqvist of California.

The only singles wins against the Cardinal came from No. 118 junior Alaina Miller who defeated Kimberly Yee 6-3, 6-2, and No. 46 freshman Abi Altick who overcame Janice Shin 6-1, 6-3.

Both Miller and Altick also went on to win their singles matches against the Bears, despite a rain delay interrupting the flow of play. For Altick, the two wins meant improving her dual-match record to 8-1, good for the best on the team.

“I’ve just been trying to implement what we’ve been doing in practice into the matches, working on each pattern,” Altick said. “I served really well, I was pretty mentally strong the whole match, both matches, and I was just focused on hitting my shots.”

In the end, though, it was all eyes on Hart.

With UCLA ahead 3-2 against California, No. 41 Hart battled No. 35 Anna Bright on court two, while junior Ayan Broomfield faced off against Vivian Glozman on court five.

The Bears needed both wins to take the match – but they didn’t get them.

After dropping the first set, Hart came back to upset Bright 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. Hart attributed her win to executing at the net – something she had struggled with in her singles loss against Stanford.

“I just had to take every chance that I got to come to the net,” Hart said.

The 1-1 start to the Pac-12 season leaves the Bruins with room to improve. They will have three days off before a nonconference matchup against No. 20 Oklahoma State on Wednesday.

Assistant Sports editor

Dzwonczyk is currently an assistant Sports editor for the women's basketball, women's soccer, beach volleyball, men's golf and women's golf beats. She was previously a reporter on the women's soccer, beach volleyball and women's tennis beats.

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