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With decisive play from Kimmi Hance, UCLA women’s tennis crushes competition

Sophomore Kimmi Hance watches the ball approach as she goes to hit a forehand. Playing at the No. 1 singles spot for the first time with UCLA women’s tennis, Hance surrendered one game to her opponent. (Ilan Berdy/Daily Bruin)

Women's Tennis


Cal State Northridge0
UCLA7

By Jack Nelson

Feb. 18, 2023 2:09 p.m.

The tale of a bull besting a matador would be a fine analogy for the Bruins’ performance.

A better one would be a bull in a china shop.

To the tune of a 7-0 drubbing, UCLA women’s tennis (3-2) rolled past Cal State Northridge (3-2) on Thursday. In its first match at the Los Angeles Tennis Center since its season opener, the blue and gold picked up right where it left off, replicating its sweep of Loyola Marymount on Jan. 25.

“We need to play as many matches as we can, we had some rain-outs and we’re a little behind in some of the match play that some other teams have had,” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “Any team we can play, we want to play.”

Kimmi Hance proved to be the player of the afternoon, turning in the most decisive singles result of the day for the Bruins in her debut at the No. 1 singles spot. The No. 82-ranked sophomore had no issue breaking her opponent’s serve early and often, quickly entrenching herself in the driver’s seat en route to a 6-0, 6-1 triumph.

But there was more to Hance’s triumphant day. Thanks to the playing out of all doubles matches, Hance – once again paired with fellow sophomore Elise Wagle – ensured a clean and tiebreak-free sweep of doubles play with their 6-4 victory.

Acknowledging the publicity that comes with the top spot, Hance said the experience was a mix of pride and expectations.

“I love representing UCLA, and I know I’m the first person people usually see when they come out,” Hance said. “I definitely have a little bit of that weight and pressure on my shoulders. But today, I just did a good job of representing.”

After spending much of her freshman season at the No. 4 spot, where she claimed 14 consecutive sets at one point, Hance received tennis’s ultimate promotion.

Her coach knew it was time.

“She was ready,” Sampras Webster said. “She’s earned it, and she’s really wanted to see how she would do playing that top spot. That’s not easy.”

The team that clinched the 1-0 advantage for the blue and gold was the only such tandem needing a comeback.

Junior Vanessa Ong and senior Sasha Vagramov found themselves down 3-0 to Vitoria Solis and Cindy Ung, needing a hold to dodge a double-break. The two Bruins did just that, proceeding to break back to cut the deficit even further to 3-2. But the two Matadors responded, breaking at 3-2 to go up 4-2.

It was at that point when UCLA opened its run.

Taking each of the following four games, Ong and Vagramov completed their comeback 6-4 victory to back up sophomore Ava Catanzarite and freshman Fangran Tian’s 6-1 performance on court two.

“We were like, ‘Let’s just clean it up, get focused, have bigger targets, and not lose belief in ourselves,'” Ong said. “We just kept telling ourselves to keep bouncing and show a lot of energy to get out of that hole we were in.”

UCLA yielded just one set to CSUN across all match play, completing five straight-set wins on the singles front. Wagle joined her doubles partner in holding her opponent off the board in her first singles set of the day, going on to notch a 6-0, 6-2 win on court six. It was a mirror performance for the sophomore, who defeated her Rice opponent by the same score in her return to the singles lineup last Friday.

The only dropped set of the day came on court three, where Vagramov faltered in her second set before emerging on the winning side of a super tiebreaker, securing the all-around sweep with a 6-4, 3-6, 1-0(10-4) decision.

Next up for UCLA is a trip across town to play No. 24 USC at the same place where it nearly completed a rivalry win down 3-1 in the previous bout between the two.

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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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