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In sneak peek of switch to Big Ten, UCLA women’s tennis will take on Ohio State

Anne-Christine Lutkemeyer dives to hit a low forehand. The freshman for UCLA women’s tennis has had mixed results in dual-singles play this season and has yet to string together wins in the format. (Esther Ma/Daily Bruin staff)

Women's Tennis

No. 4 Ohio State
Sunday, noon

Los Angeles Tennis Center
UCLA Live Stream

By Elise Oliver

March 11, 2023 11:23 a.m.

The Bruins will get a glimpse into their future this upcoming weekend.

After splitting their matches up north, UCLA women’s tennis (4-3, 1-1 Pac-12) will take on No. 4 Ohio State (8-4, 1-0 Big Ten) at home this Sunday. While this is a nonconference match this year, the contest will serve as a preview for the blue and gold who is set to shift conferences to the Big Ten next year.

“It’s a big match for us,” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “It’s a great opportunity for us to play a highly ranked team out of our conference. We really want to take advantage of this opportunity.”

The Bruins have only faced the Buckeyes once – back in 2016 – where they suffered a 4-1 defeat.

Despite the lack of history between both teams, freshman Anne-Christine Lutkemeyer said she is eager to take on the scarlet and gray.

“I’m very excited,” Lutkemeyer said. “We haven’t had the opportunity to play such a high-ranked team yet. In terms of practicing, (we’ve been) trying to get some good days and staying solid with fitness and recovery.”

Having two conference matches under her belt this season, Sampras Webster said she takes pride in the level of play already exemplified by the team’s freshmen.

Lutkemeyer, who notched a win in her singles matchup last weekend, has 16 total singles wins this season, a team high. No. 63 freshman Fangran Tian has also proven to be a constant in the team’s success, remaining undefeated in dual-match play after yet another singles win the previous weekend.

“The freshmen are veterans,” Sampras Webster said. “They’re used to playing high-level, elite players. They’ve played a lot of great tournaments, so they know what needs to be done and how to prepare for it.”

However, Ohio State has found quick success thus far this season. In its first conference matchup last week, it bludgeoned Penn State, coming out on top with a 7-0 score.

Securing its second consecutive Big Ten regular-season championship last year, Ohio State has continued to take down ranked competition. Its season kicked off with a win over No. 20 Oklahoma, and they followed up with victories against No. 24 Old Dominion, No. 16 Tennessee, No. 3 Georgia and No. 7 Auburn.

Still, Lutkemeyer sees this contest as just another match – and said she is confident in her team’s abilities.

“(We’re) physically keeping the energy up and mentally staying strong,” Lutkemeyer said. “A match isn’t over until the last point’s played. … Every match we go out to play is pretty much the same.”

Sampras Webster echoed Lutkemeyer’s sentiments and noted that her team has a key advantage over the Buckeyes.

“Everyone’s beatable,” Sampras Webster said. “They’re away from their home court, they’re playing outdoors and they’ve got to make adjustments. Our team is strong. … We just need to go out and play our Bruin tennis.”

First serve between the Bruins and the Buckeyes is set for noon on Sunday at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.

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Elise Oliver
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