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UCLA women’s tennis kicks off dual-match play with a home sweep over LMU

Fangran Tian goes to embrace sophomore Elise Wagle after the former’s singles match. The freshman capped off UCLA women’s tennis’s sweep Wednesday with a straight-sets victory at No. 1 singles. (Esther Ma/Daily Bruin staff)

Women's Tennis

Loyola Marymount0
No. 18 UCLA7

By Jack Nelson

Jan. 26, 2023 3:26 p.m.

This post was updated Jan. 27 at 12:51 a.m.

Maybe last year was an anomaly after all.

No. 18 UCLA women’s tennis (1-0) swept Loyola Marymount (0-3) by a tally of 7-0 on Wednesday to open up dual-match play at home. After allowing just six points to the Lions across 19 matchups dating back to 2000, the Bruins were handed their first defeat in the history between the two schools last season.

This time around, the UCLA of old returned – and did not surrender a set in the process.

“I think it’s just good to get the match under our belt, just to have that off our back,” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “Now, let’s just go out and play.”

And in the match that the Bruins have now pocketed, the face of their singles lineup was an unfamiliar one.

Freshman Fangran Tian, seeing her first dual-match singles action in Westwood, got the nod from Sampras Webster to take court one for the Bruins. The No. 94-ranked freshman became the first player to make her UCLA debut at the top position since Elysia Bolton in 2019.

It was not a setting Tian had anticipated.

“I didn’t really expect it. I thought I would play a little lower,” Tian said. “But I trust our team, and I trust Stella, so I just want to play my game and win some matches for our team.”

Pitted against a player two years her senior, Tian served up a bagel in the first set of her dual-match career. The second set, though, was a much tighter contest.

Tian and Stefania Rogozinska-Dzik became knotted at six games apiece with the match already clinched for the blue and gold. And just seconds after fellow freshman No. 120 Anne-Christine Lutkemeyer had bagged a tiebreaker win of her own, Tian followed suit, completing a 6-0, 7-6(3) triumph to seal the sweep.

“It was great to see her compete. She was nervous,” Sampras Webster said. “(I’m) happy that she pulled that out, but she knows she can’t play that type of tennis at that position.”

Elsewhere on the front courts, No. 46 sophomore Kimmi Hance – who Sampras Webster said will be rotating with Tian at the No. 1 singles spot for the foreseeable future – picked up right where she ended her freshman campaign. Hance extended her dual-match singles win streak to 13 by upending Eva Marie Voracek 6-2, 6-2 on court two.

Junior Vanessa Ong and senior Sasha Vagramov took to the back courts to work at the No. 5 and No. 6 singles spots, respectively. Ong warmed up to Anna Paradisi in a 6-4, 6-2 result while Vagramov delivered the most lopsided decision of singles play in a 6-1, 6-0 win over Kim-Michaela Zahraj.

Though a late arrival to the points party herself, Lutkemeyer would also add to the scoreboard with a 6-3, 7-6(6) victory over Isabella Tcherkes-Zade in the former’s dual-match debut.

With Hance and Vagramov securing UCLA’s second and third points of the match, No. 42 Ava Catanzarite found herself with a clinching opportunity, and she took it. The sophomore prevailed 6-2, 6-3 over Sofia Munera on court three to send the Lions packing.

“Last season, I played very, very defensively,” Catanzarite said. “I’ve been working a lot this summer to try to be a more offensive player, use my forehand more, run around my backhand.”

But the brooms were already out before the Bruins even commenced singles play.

Led by Hance and sophomore Elise Wagle, a second-year duo that comes in just shy of the top 10 doubles teams in the nation, the blue and gold cooked up a pair of baguettes to snag the 1-0 advantage. Court three’s Ong and Vagramov offered up the first serving with a 6-1 win while Hance and Wagle provided seconds with the same result on court one.

UCLA will next bring its winning start out east, where it will play No. 24 Iowa State and either FIU or No. 10 Miami at ITA Kickoff Weekend in Coral Gables, Florida.

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Jack Nelson | Sports senior staff
Nelson is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats and a contributor on the men's tennis and women's tennis beats.
Nelson is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats and a contributor on the men's tennis and women's tennis beats.
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