Women’s tennis to send 6 players to ITA fall championship
Redshirt senior Jada Hart will enter the final fall tournament of her career this week when she and five other UCLA women’s tennis players travel to the Oracle ITA Fall National Championships. Hart is one of three Bruins to play singles, and all six will participate in doubles. (Niveda Tennety/Assistant Photo editor)
By Jason Maikis
Nov. 6, 2019 1:04 a.m.
The Bruins are staying local for the final national tournament of fall.
Six UCLA women’s tennis players will travel roughly 50 miles south to Newport Beach, California, to play in the Oracle ITA Fall National Championships starting Wednesday. Three Bruins will participate in singles competition, and all six will see action in doubles.
Redshirt senior Jada Hart said the proximity of the tournament is very helpful for UCLA because the team won’t have to think too much about changes in the playing environment.
“I think it does help being in Southern California,” Hart said. “We’re in Newport Beach, so it won’t be that different weatherwise or (with) the pace of the ball. Maybe we’ll be on a different surface, maybe the courts will be slower, but it’s nice to be local so we don’t have to travel too far and adapt to a time change.”
Hart enters the fall championship singles bracket coming off a finals appearance in September’s Oracle ITA Masters, and the fifth-year Bruin is No. 9 in the ITA preseason singles ranking.
Hart didn’t enter the singles competition at the fall championship last season, but reached the quarterfinals in the doubles competition with then-freshman Elysia Bolton. The No. 4 preseason-ranked duo is one of three UCLA doubles teams participating, which Hart said will give the Bruins a boost of assurance in its doubles play.
“Playing with (Bolton) in Newport will give us some confidence,” Hart said. “We also have three doubles teams going, and we feel confident that we can keep (the teams) strong during the season.”
One of those other doubles teams is the No. 37-ranked duo of junior Abi Altick and sophomore Taylor Johnson. This is Altick’s second year back in the fall championship, with her first appearance coming last year in singles.
The pair of freshman Abbey Forbes and junior Annette Goulak will be the third doubles team present in Newport Beach, and the two previously won the ITA Southwest Regional Championships this fall, defeating Altick and Johnson in the final.
Coach Stella Sampras Webster said seeing multiple combinations of Bruins together on the doubles court is the best way for the team to be prepared to win doubles points during dual matches in the spring.
“Sometimes they surprise us,“ Sampras Webster said. “Even though we have this information, putting them together and seeing them compete out there is the best information. With (the dual-match) format, we need to figure out how to win two out of the three, so we can’t have weak or overloaded teams.”
Forbes will be one of the three UCLA players in the singles competition, coming off a singles tournament win at the regional championship – defeating Hart in a straight-set title win.
The third Bruin entered to play singles is Bolton, who is No. 16 in the preseason singles ranking and has only played in one tournament this fall due to professional conflicts.
“I’ve been playing pro tournaments instead of the fall tournaments,” Bolton said. “And (I’ve been) playing pretty well, so I’m excited to go into fall championships and see how it translates there.”
Bolton reached the quarterfinals of the fall championship last season, the farthest run of a UCLA player in the singles draw.
Regardless of her previous experience coming in, however, Bolton said the proximity of the tournament isn’t just helpful for travel or weather purposes – it is midterm season, after all.
“I have a quiz on Tuesday, so (the tournament location) is a big help with that,” Bolton said.