Three new Bruin faces have committed to Westwood next year.
Abigail Forbes from Raleigh, North Carolina, and Alexandra Vagramov from Port Moody, British Columbia – both with blue-chip status – will join UCLA women’s tennis. Men’s tennis has one commitment in blue-chip recruit Drew Baird of Holly Springs, North Carolina.
Unlike many other sports, the year-round nature of college and junior circuit tennis creates a yearlong recruiting cycle for most programs. Due to early fall commitments, the current men’s and women’s tennis class had several players who chose to enroll at UCLA early and play with the team in spring.
Coach Stella Sampras Webster said the recruiting trail is imperative to be a good program, and the changing landscape of recruiting rules only pushes teams harder to compete for the best players.
“The recruiting is the most important part of our program,” Sampras Webster said. “We’ll travel and go to the US Open, national tournaments, different challengers. With the recruiting rules changing so that we can contact recruits directly, it speeds up the process and allows us to be aggressive in getting who we want.”
The women’s team will lose three starters, including doubles national champions seniors Ayan Broomfield and Gabby Andrews. Sampras Webster said the incoming freshmen will have big shoes to fill, but she is confident they will be able to perform well at the collegiate level.
“Our seniors have done an amazing job this year,” Sampras Webster said. “But (the recruits) will be ready – both have a lot of experience playing national tournaments, and they’re both excited to understand and continue the UCLA tradition.”
Forbes is the No. 5-ranked recruit according to TennisRecruiting.net, and she has competed in multiple national United States Tennis Association tournaments as well as the junior US Open. Vagramov, whose most recent competitive action came at the USTA International Spring Championship, is ranked No. 12.
Baird, ranked No. 3 among incoming recruits on the men’s side, has played in three 2018 Junior Grand Slams, among other tournaments. Baird claimed a singles victory over former top Bruin Martin Redlicki in the 2019 USTA Championships of Calabasas.
Coach Billy Martin said he was happy to secure Baird’s commitment early in an otherwise quiet recruiting season.
“We were lucky to get a commitment early in the recruiting season from (Baird),” Martin said. “He’s been at the IMG Academy for three-plus years, but he’s traveled to Southern California, and it’s funny how it happens, he wanted to come here.”
UCLA will only lose one senior, Maxime Cressy. Cressy was the Bruins’ No. 1 singles player this year and half of an undefeated and national-champion doubles pairing.
Baird’s Universal Tennis Rating of 13 is on par with UCLA players such as freshman Govind Nanda. Although Baird will only be a freshman next year, Martin said he planned to push his talented new recruit like a top collegiate player.
“I want him to come in and challenge to play No. 1,” Martin said. “I want him to shoot for the stars, and I’ve never been shy about having freshmen high in the lineup. I don’t care about what year they are; if they’re playing the best they will be put at the top of our lineup.”