Sunday, February 23

After slicing past foes, women’s tennis ends ITA run just short of semifinals

Senior Ayan Broomfield paired up with senior Gabby Andrews at the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships. The pair fell to Pepperdine's No. 26 Ashley Lahey and Evgeniya Levashova in the quarterfinals on Friday afternoon. (Ken Shin/Daily Bruin staff)

Two tiebreakers ended the hopes of a Bruin championship.

“It was a great experience,” said coach Stella Sampras Webster.

UCLA women’s tennis sent five players to the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships this past week in Arizona, registering two quarterfinal appearances in doubles and a quarterfinals appearance from freshman Elysia Bolton in singles.

Doubles pair senior Ayan Broomfield and senior Gabby Andrews began the tournament with a string of consecutive wins before finding themselves trailing by one set to Pepperdine’s No. 26 Ashley Lahey and Evgeniya Levashova in the quarterfinals.

But a 6-1 victory in the second set sent the pair into a super tiebreaker to decide the match.

“It was kind of stressful being in a third-set tiebreaker, knowing that it’s not a full set,” Broomfield said. “We’ve actually played that team in the finals of (the ITA Regional Championships) and we actually came out on top. So we were pretty confident going in.”

The pair built an 8-7 lead late in the tiebreaking set.

“When it’s so close like that, it’s kind of a coin toss,” Broomfield said.

Bolton advanced to the quarterfinals in both singles and doubles at the tournament. Her singles performance might not have produced a championship, but she came away with a victory over the 2017 NCAA Champion Brienne Minor.

“I think it’s a great confidence booster leading into season,” Bolton said.

On the doubles side, Bolton paired up with redshirt junior Jada Hart and defeated top-seeded Stanford pair No. 3 Michaela Gordon and Emily Arbuthnott in straight sets.

“We know them. Stanford knows us. So we knew what to expect,” Sampras Webster said.

Hart, who had been on the losing side against the Stanford duo last year in the same tournament, did not let history repeat itself this time around.

But much like their teammates, Bolton and Hart fell to their quarterfinal opponents in a third-set super tiebreaker.

Members of the team said there is still optimism for the rest of the season despite the losses.

“It’s also great that a lot of my teammates had a great run as well,” Bolton said. We’re looking really good going into season.”

UCLA was the only school to field two sets of pairs in the quarterfinals of the doubles bracket, a feat that Sampras Webster looks to improve on.

“It was a great thing for us to learn from and get better at,” Sampras Webster said. “At this level, teams don’t just give it to us. You’ve got to take it.”

Sports reporter

Papoutsis is currently a Sports reporter on the men's tennis beat. He was previously a contributor on the women's tennis beat.

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