UCLA women’s tennis regains dual-match momentum with sweep over UCSB
Sophomore Vanessa Ong readies to hit the ball during a match. Ong clinched the deciding point for No. 19 UCLA women’s tennis in its win over UC Santa Barbara on Friday. (Kaiya Pomeroy-Tso/Daily Bruin senior staff)
By Jack Nelson
Feb. 5, 2022 2:15 p.m.
Coming off a start to dual-match play inconsistent with their recent seasons, the Bruins rebounded with their second shutout performance of the campaign.
No. 19 UCLA women’s tennis (2-2) claimed a 4-0 victory over UC Santa Barbara (1-4) on Friday afternoon at the Los Angeles Tennis Center, advancing to .500 in nonconference play. Entering the match, the Bruins owned a losing record after the first three contests of their season for the first time since the 2003-2004 season and had failed to qualify for the ITA Indoor Championships for the first time since 2017.
“Feeling good about themselves and their tennis builds confidence, and I think this was a great match to just build on,” coach Stella Sampras Webster said. “We’ve had some setbacks, but I believe in these girls.”
UCLA rode early breaks on multiple courts to claim the doubles point and its third 1-0 advantage of the year. Junior Sasha Vagramov and freshman Kimmi Hance snagged a 6-1 victory over Camille Kiss and Filippa Bruu-Syversen on court three to get the winning ways going for the Bruins. On court one, junior Abbey Forbes and freshman Ava Catanzarite sealed the doubles point to that same 6-1 tune.
With senior Elysia Bolton, a usual doubles starter, out of the lineup with an injury, Hance was tasked with slotting into court three to play her first doubles match for the blue and gold.
Although nerves were part of the experience, Hance said her chemistry with Vagramov was key in getting the win.
“Coming into it, I was a little nervous, obviously because it was my first doubles,” Hance said. “Me and Sasha had really good energy and we were able to close it out pretty quickly, so I’m happy about it.”
UCLA constructed a similar narrative in singles play as it did in doubles play, taking five of six first sets against UCSB. Only Catanzarite was unable to snag the one-set lead in her respective match.
No. 68 Forbes was the first to get the Bruins on the singles scoreboard when she came up just a game shy of a double bagel, defeating Shakhnoza Khatamova 6-1, 6-0 on court one. UCLA then inched even closer to the decisive fourth point, courtesy of No. 49 Vagramov’s 6-3, 6-0 triumph on court two over Kiss.
A Bruin’s singles season debut would provide the clincher.
On court four, sophomore Vanessa Ong dealt Amelia Honer a 6-0, 6-2 loss in her first singles action of the season to seal the shutout performance for UCLA. Across the three singles matches that were completed, the Gauchos claimed only six total games.
“It was nice to go out there as a team and take care of business, and it definitely felt good,” Ong said. “We haven’t had that in a while.”
Sampras Webster said it was important to set a winning tone prior to Saturday’s match against No. 5 Pepperdine.
“It’s always great to have a team of players go in and get a win before going into playing a team like Pepperdine,” Sampras Webster said. “They’re going to have more of the pressure so we’re going to play hard and play free and go after it.”
Saturday’s contest will be the first meeting between the two squads since the Waves washed the Bruins out of last year’s NCAA tournament in the quarterfinals.