The Bruins had a chance to redeem their only conference loss of the regular season – but they came up short.
No. 2-seeded UCLA women’s tennis (20-5, 9-1 Pac-12) fell 4-2 to No. 1-seeded Stanford (18-3, 9-0) in Saturday’s Pac-12 final.
“We have always had such a hard time with (Stanford),” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “They’re just so consistent and mentally strong that we just haven’t been able to get over the hump of being able to win those big points.”
Unlike in its regular season encounter with Stanford, UCLA won the doubles point for an early lead.
On court three, junior Alaina Miller and sophomore Ena Shibahara defeated Melissa Lord and Janice Shin 6-3 on an ace from Shibahara.
The doubles point was decided on court one, where the No. 6 duo of senior Terri Fleming and redshirt sophomore Jada Hart battled No. 2 Emily Arbuthnott and Michaela Gordon for over an hour. In the tiebreaker, the Bruins pulled off the upset 7-6.
“(Hart) came up with some great shots,” Sampras Webster said. “They’re a great team with (Hart)’s great groundstrokes and (Fleming) finishing points off at the net.”
With the momentum from the doubles win, three UCLA players raced off to first-set victories in singles play.
However, the Bruins’ stride didn’t last.
“I think that I didn’t get off to the hottest start, which was unfortunate for the rest of the team,” Hart said. “But I think on most of the courts, we had the momentum going in.”
The only UCLA singles win on the day was No. 14 Shibahara’s defeat of No. 16 Gordon 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 on court one.
Shibahara said she was out for redemption.
“I went in challenging myself because I lost to (Gordon) the first time we played Stanford,” Shibahara said. “I went in being focused on every point, because I knew my opponent wasn’t going to give me any free ones.”
On court two, No. 30 Hart was upset by No. 68 Lord 1-6, 5-7. Hart said she was disappointed with her day individually.
“I was not happy at all with the way I performed today,” Hart said. “I felt like the rest of the team gave themselves a fighting chance to make a comeback and I wasn’t capable of making that comeback.”
Even with the day’s result, Shibahara said she was proud of her team’s efforts across the board.
“I was really happy with the way everyone played today and this whole tournament,” Shibahara said. “I’m sure everyone doesn’t feel it right now, but I think it’ll definitely give us confidence going to NCAAs because we were right there.”
The Bruins will learn their NCAA Tournament fate Tuesday.