Three Bruins got their first college experiences of the year this weekend.
UCLA women’s tennis freshman Sasha Vagramov, sophomore Taylor Johnson and junior Annette Goulak competed in the Women’s Collegiate Invitational from Thursday to Sunday in Malibu. Goulak reached the semifinal in singles, while both Johnson and Vagramov fell in the round of 16 in singles.
The tournament had two singles draws – orange and blue.
In the 32-person orange draw, Vagramov defeated Duke’s Margaryta Bilokin in three sets, but fell to Georgia’s No. 13-ranked Marta Gonzalez 6-3, 7-5.
Vagramov went on to lose to two ranked players, No. 47 Giulia Pairone of Michigan and No. 110 Alle Sanford of North Carolina, before earning a consolation win over Michigan’s Alyvia Jones.
Coach Stella Sampras Webster said the exposure to high-ranked college players is good for Vagramov’s development, even though the freshman may have been a bit taken aback by her opponents’ levels of talent and mental toughness.
“(Vagramov) played some really solid players this week,” Sampras Webster said. “She was surprised at how big the jump was to college from USTA and juniors. They’re mentally strong and won’t give up or have a let down just because they lose a game or set.”
In the 16-player blue draw, Johnson lost in the first round to Vanderbilt’s Emma Kurtz in back-to-back 6-4 sets. Goulak won her first two matches over Gemma Garcia of San Diego State and Summer Dvorak of Duke, before falling in the semifinal to Lisa Zaar of Pepperdine 6-3, 6-2.
Johnson won one of her consolation matches over Samantha Alicea of Arizona State 6-1, 6-2, but lost to Garcia in her other consolation match 6-1, 6-4. Goulak won her only consolation, defeating Arizona State’s Tereza Kolarova in straight sets.
Goulak and Vagramov were making their Bruin debuts – and college debut for Vagramov – while Johnson only has one year of college experience under her belt.
“All three of them aren’t at their peak yet,” Sampras Webster said. “They have a lot of room to grow and develop, as well as a lot of time to work on their games this fall. This tournament was great for that because of how many matches it allowed us to play, especially against opponents from outside of our region.”
The UCLA trio was undefeated in doubles on the weekend, as well. The pair of Goulak and Johson defeated teams from Vanderbilt and Michigan by the same score of 6-3 both in one-set matches, while Johnson and Vagramov teamed up to defeat North Carolina’s Sophia Patel and Anika Yarlagadda 6-4.
Up next for UCLA is the ITA Women’s All-American Championships from Saturday through Sunday in Tulsa, Oklahoma.