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UCLA women’s tennis scores upset over Ohio State in biggest victory since 2021

Members of UCLA women’s tennis go to hug senior Sasha Vagramov after a match. The team captain clinched the blue and gold’s upset of Ohio State on Sunday. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Women's Tennis

No. 4 Ohio State3

By Natalie Glawe

March 13, 2023 5:06 p.m.

This post was updated March 14 at 9:23 p.m.

With a final shot, Sasha Vagramov iced the Bruins’ biggest triumph in over two years.

And as the senior’s teammates stormed the court, the freshman who had put her in a clinching position moments earlier was one of the first to embrace her.

In its first top-five win since February 2021, UCLA women’s tennis (5-3, 1-1 Pac-12) toppled No. 4 Ohio State (8-5, 1-0 Big Ten) by a score of 4-3 on Sunday. Though the gallantry of the Bruins’ doubles play set them on the path to victory, singles wins within mere moments of each other by Vagramov and No. 63 freshman Fangran Tian proved to be the difference.

“I think that (winning the doubles point) gave us a lot of positive momentum going in,” Vagramov said. “And, obviously, the atmosphere was pretty intense.”

Tian – despite being outscored 5-2 by No. 17 doubles pair Irina Cantos Siemers and Sydni Ratliff – was able to get in the win column versus Cantos Siemers in her singles matchup. Although Tian initially shut down the No. 20 Ohio State senior 4-0 in the first set, the latter was able to claw her way back, with Tian escaping the first set 6-4 and Cantos Siemers claiming the second 6-3.

“I feel like in the second set, I (was) not patient enough,” Tian said. “I made some errors and then (Cantos Siemers found) a way to build her game.”

Despite the loss in the second set, Tian mustered up the strength to beat her opponent to the tune of a 6-1 decision in the final set, knotting the match between UCLA and Ohio State at three apiece and putting Vagramov in position to clinch the upset win.

Tian said she was hungry for victory going into the match.

“I look at the scoreboard, and I know the team needs me,” Tian said. “Then everybody’s shouting for me, so I just (pushed) my limits.”

Just minutes after Tian’s triumph, Vagramov tied the knot for the Bruins, defeating Ohio State’s Isabelle Boulais in the third set 6-4. Though Vagramov boasted a decisive 6-3 victory in the first set, she suffered a 6-2 defeat in the second. After being forced to go to a third, Vagramov said she realized the need to get a few early games under her belt.

Despite the intensity of the atmosphere, winning the doubles point early on gave the Bruins the momentum necessary to come out on top, according to Vagramov. She acknowledged the challenge of playing the third set, but said she was ultimately confident in her fitness and mental toughness as she neared the end.

“We’ve been working hard, so I knew I could handle it,” Vagramov said. “It was more of just me trying to stay focused.”

Coach Stella Sampras Webster said she hopes the team basks in the victory, but also sees how it can build upon it. She noted how important the win was for the program, given the way it has struggled compared to past seasons.

“Our team is improving,” Sampras Webster said. “Now they can really just believe in themselves (in) that whatever, whoever we’re playing, we may have a chance to win.”

Sampras Webster made note of No. 76 sophomore Ava Catanzarite’s ferocious play, as the sophomore bageled Ohio State’s Kolie Allen in the first set and carried the momentum to put up a 6-2 victory in the second.

Tian said even though it wasn’t a conference matchup, the team always looks to play at its highest caliber.

And now, the Bruins have a high-caliber victory to back it up.

“This is definitely a huge win,” Tian said.

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Natalie Glawe
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