Elysia Bolton returns to UCLA women’s tennis, finds doubles partner in hometown friend
Senior Elysia Bolton hits the ball during a match. Bolton recorded four wins over the weekend at the Freeman Memorial Championships in her first matches back with UCLA women’s tennis since May. (Antonio Martinez/Daily Bruin staff)
Jan. 17, 2022 7:44 p.m.
Having taken the fall off to compete professionally, Elysia Bolton had not played an amateur match since May.
Then, over a three-day collegiate invitational, the senior reunited with a hometown friend to help her pick up more match wins than any other player on their team.
“I was just focusing on having fun and enjoying myself out there,” Bolton said. “I thought I had a really good weekend.”
Bolton and three other members of UCLA women’s tennis traveled to Las Vegas over the weekend for the annual Freeman Memorial Championships, an event featuring squads from across the country. This year’s installment saw six teams play in both a doubles and singles draw, as well as additional matches, with Bolton and freshman Elise Wagle reaching the doubles semifinals – the furthest of any Bruins.
Bolton said the highlight of the championship was being able to compete with her UCLA teammates again.
“It was so fun being back with the team, getting to know the freshmen a little better,” Bolton said. “It was good to just be back with everyone and traveling with some friends again.”
The invitational not only marked a return to the team for Bolton, but also a reunion with hometown friend Wagle. The two attended the same high school in New York and trained together on the East Coast before Bolton started at UCLA in 2018.
While they practiced in the same place, their three-year age difference as prep students prevented them from playing in many tournaments or doubles matches together.
Wagle said she has enjoyed being able to join her fellow New Yorker at UCLA.
“Being able to play with her is unbelievable,” Wagle said. “I wish our old coach … could see us because I think he’d think it’d be so cool.”
The pair picked up wins against Florida’s McCartney Kessler and Emma Shelton, and the No. 1 tournament seed Victoria Flores and Lisa Zaar of Pepperdine, before falling 6-4 to another Florida pairing of Alicia Dudeney and Bente Spee in the doubles semifinals. Bolton also played in three singles matches, gaining wins against competitors from Stanford and Florida.
Along with Bolton and Wagle, junior Sasha Vagramov and freshman Ava Catanzarite represented the Bruins in the tournament. Vagramov logged a team-high seven matches, including three doubles contests with Catanzarite that resulted in a win against a duo from Nevada.
“They both have great doubles skills, it’s just finding the right partner for them,” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “They’re going to get better and better throughout the season and definitely will be an option for us because of their doubles skills and their experience.”
The invitational was also the Bruins’ final competition before the start of dual meets Friday.
While neither Bolton and Wagle nor Vagramov and Catanzarite are set doubles pairs for the regular season, Wagle said the tournament was a good way to start the year and get match play in before UCLA’s upcoming bout against Loyola Marymount.
“Obviously I wanted to win, but it was more like a learning experience,” Wagle said. “I’m super pumped for the season.”