The Bruins had their seven-game shutout streak snapped in the final of the ITA indoor championship.
No. 4 UCLA women’s tennis (7-1) was unable to hold off No. 2 North Carolina (10-0) for the second straight year in the ITA indoor championship match Monday, one day after UCLA had upset No. 1 Stanford (5-1) – its seventh straight shutout to start the season.
Before falling in the final round, UCLA took down Stanford for the first time since 2015 and for the first time in redshirt senior Jada Hart’s five years in Westwood. En route to the matchup with Stanford, UCLA had swept Illinois and No. 9 Florida State.
“This is the most talented team I’ve been a part of at UCLA,” Hart said. “Being able to beat Stanford for the first time was really special for me.”
In doubles, freshman Abbey Forbes and junior Annette Goulak clinched the first point with a 6-1 victory over Stanford’s Michaela Gordon and Janice Shin. In singles, freshman Sasha Vagramov clinched a trip to the championship round with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Emma Higuchi.
UCLA was unable to continue its dominance Monday, however, as only one court earned a win on the day – with Hart and sophomore Elysia Bolton defeating UNC’s Sara Daavettila and Alexa Graham 6-2 at No. 1 doubles. But their win didn’t earn the Bruins a point on the scoreboard since both the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams fell to the Tar Heels.
“Today, North Carolina just played better,” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “They got the breaks that we didn’t. We had a lot of close games, deuce points that could’ve gone either way.”
UNC took five of six first sets in singles competition, with Hart being the only Bruin to grab her first set. The Tar Heels’ Makenna Jones took the first match against Goulak 6-0, 6-2, while junior Abi Altick fell to Elizabeth Scotty 6-4, 6-1. The championship was decided on the top court, where Bolton lost to Graham 7-6 (4), 6-3 to seal the win for UNC.
In her first trip to the ITA indoor championship, Vagramov posted three straight-set, clinching victories, winning the fourth point for the Bruins in each of their matchups prior to Monday’s contest against the Tar Heels.
“It’s definitely a really empowering atmosphere to be around all my teammates, so clinching felt really good,” Vagramov said. “I felt really pumped the whole match because every point matters.”
The doubles tandem of Hart and Bolton have now won 11 matches in a row, including three wins over top-10 opponents during the indoor tournament, but Sampras Webster said she still sees room for the team to improve.
“Our doubles is probably not as strong as last year, but we can improve,” Sampras Webster said. “It was great to see some of our doubles really step up. We have the talent, it’s a matter of whether we’ll be able to thrive under pressure, and we did.”
After the team’s first loss of the season, Hart said it will be her job as the only senior on the team to guide the squad back to its winning ways. Sampras Webster said she was impressed with the redshirt senior’s ability to lead her team – whose starting lineup is filled by four underclassmen.
“(Hart) comes in and she’s so locked in, it’s great to see her lead in that way,” Sampras Webster said. “Everyone can count on her to get that point. She really wants to do very well in her last year.”
Despite this loss, Vagramov said the team will look to use this tournament run to prepare for the rest of the season.
“We all have really great chemistry, all really hard workers with a positive attitude,” Vagramov said. “We come together really well and I think this is just one little step for us.”
UCLA will return to action Feb. 21 at home against California.