Abi Altick turned her match around from a blowout loss into a clinching win.
“I was in (a similar) situation last year,” the sophomore said. “It was just really a good feeling when I finally won.”
No. 5 UCLA women’s tennis (7-1) rebounded from its loss last weekend by sweeping Saint Mary’s (1-6) on Friday and defeating No. 24 California (4-3) by a score of 4-3 Saturday.
Saturday’s result hinged on the final match between sophomore Abi Altick and Cal’s Anna Bright. Altick fell behind early to Bright, conceding the first set 6-1.
“My teammates were so helpful on the sideline,” Altick said. “I knew that they had my back.”
Altick slipped into another deficit in the second set, falling behind to the nation’s No. 69-ranked player 4-1. On the verge of defeat, coach Stella Sampras Webster said Altick turned a would-be blowout into a competitive match.
“She was able to maintain her composure and calmness and go out and execute her shot,” Sampras Webster said. “It’s not easy in that situation, especially when you’re playing away.”
Altick rallied back to defeat Bright 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the second and third sets. Her victory clinched the Bruins’ seventh win of the season.
“I think it’s a huge confidence booster just knowing that I can stay mentally and physically strong,” Altick said. “Everyone is going to play well against us because we’re ranked high.”
Senior Alaina Miller extended her winning streak to seven this weekend, notching a victory against Saint Mary’s Chloe Goyette by scores of 7-5, 6-1.
“I haven’t been focusing on my matches as much,” Miller said. “I’ve been focusing a lot on cheering on my teammates.”
Miller went on to defeat Cal’s Maria Smith in 6-3, 6-3 straight sets. The senior said she hopes to stay focused on each individual game instead of getting carried away by the rankings.
“I think all the rankings and the whether or not we’re playing a good team drops away,” Miller said. “Focusing on little things are going to matter in the bigger picture.”
After dropping her first match of the season last weekend, No. 11 freshman Elysia Bolton rebounded with a victory of her own against Cal’s Olivia Hauger. Hauger, ranked No. 20 in the nation, could not handle Bolton’s performance, losing 6-3, 6-3.
“We just let the freshmen know that we’re playing really good teams,” Miller said. “Knowing that they have three more seasons, they were able to go out and really play freely.”
The Bruins move to 7-1 on the season, after breaking into the top 5 of the rankings for the first time this year. Sampras Webster said the early-season success will not distract her team down the stretch.
“Obviously it’s nice to be ranked high but there’s so much more tennis to play,” Sampras Webster said. “The rankings are so crazy right now, that it doesn’t really mean anything to me.’’
UCLA will host UC Santa Barbara on Thursday at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.