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Women’s tennis heads to Florida for ITA Kickoff Weekend after sweeping LMU

Ava Catanzarite hits a standing, two-handed backhand during a match Jan. 25. The sophomore for UCLA women’s tennis tops all Bruins in the ITA singles rankings, coming in at No. 42. (Esther Ma/Daily Bruin staff)

Women's Tennis


No. 24 Iowa State
Saturday, 11 a.m.

Neil Schiff Tennis Center (Coral Gables, FL)
Miami Live Stream
FIU or No. 10 Miami
Sunday, 11 a.m. or 2 p.m.

Neil Schiff Tennis Center (Coral Gables, FL)
Miami Live Stream

By Olivia Simons

Jan. 27, 2023 5:44 p.m.

Nearly a year ago, the Bruins walked off the court without a bid to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Indoor Championships for the first time in five seasons.

It was their second loss in four days after falling to Loyola Marymount to start the season and losing to Washington on the second day of ITA Kickoff Weekend.

This season, the Bruins are flipping the script on their season-opening saga.

After getting revenge on the Lions with a 7-0 sweep Wednesday, No. 18 UCLA women’s tennis (1-0) will take on No. 24 Iowa State (2-1) on Saturday to begin ITA Kickoff Weekend with a chance to return to the ITA Indoor Championships in February. UCLA’s bracket, hosted in Coral Gables, Florida, will also include FIU and No. 10 Miami, one of which the Bruins will face Sunday.

Coach Stella Sampras Webster said beginning the season with a win over LMU will set a positive tone for the weekend.

“It was just a good start,” Sampras Webster said. “Everyone should be feeling pretty good and happy, and know that this is a great opportunity this weekend to play against Iowa State.”

Saturday will mark UCLA’s first time playing against Iowa State in dual-match history, and it will also be its first time out against FIU or Miami, depending on its result against the Cyclones. The weekend’s location is also unusual for the Bruins, who have hosted ITA Kickoff Weekend at the Los Angeles Tennis Center since 2019.

Nonetheless, Sampras Webster noted the Bruins’ prior experience playing in Florida, with multiple players training at the USTA National Training Center in Orlando over winter break. Sampras Webster added that her team is prepared to make any necessary adjustments in the Sunshine State.

“We’ve got to be ready, just excited for the opportunity,” Sampras Webster said. “We’ll be in a place that we’re not familiar with, but I think everyone has played in Florida before. We’ll just have to make adjustments when we get there.”

UCLA’s freshmen shook up the lineup by taking spots in both doubles and singles Wednesday. Freshman Fangran Tian took on the No. 1 singles spot, replacing recent graduate Abbey Forbes, who held the top position for the last two seasons.

Fangran secured the final match point for UCLA against LMU, finishing out the Bruins’ sweep after the team narrowly lost to the Lions in last year’s season-opening match.

“This (LMU) is our first dual-match of the season, and it’s definitely good practice for us. We’ll use this experience and try to be better,” Fangran said. “The next school is stronger, their players are stronger. Just trying to use the experience from this match and be better when we play them.”

Sophomore Ava Catanzarite – who paired up with Fangran for their first doubles contest of dual-match play – said the team is looking forward to further competition this season.

“We’re just going to take it kind of a match at a time,” Catanzarite said. “But obviously we’re just going into this super positive, we want a lot of energy. And yeah, we love to win.”

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Olivia Simons | Quad editor
Simons is the 2023-2024 Quad editor. She was previously the 2022-2023 managing editor, an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's tennis, men's tennis, swim and dive and rowing beats and a reporter on the baseball and women's tennis beats. She is also a fourth-year student from Oakland, California.
Simons is the 2023-2024 Quad editor. She was previously the 2022-2023 managing editor, an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's tennis, men's tennis, swim and dive and rowing beats and a reporter on the baseball and women's tennis beats. She is also a fourth-year student from Oakland, California.
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