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With win streak, UCLA women’s tennis sets sights on Stanford, California

UCLA women’s tennis sophomore Kimmi Hance hits a forehand. Hance was recently named Pac-12 Player of the Week. (Esther Ma/Daily Bruin staff)

By Pooja Kantemneni

March 25, 2023 1:35 p.m.

Backed by doubles dominance and Pac-12 praise, the Bruins have been on a hot streak.

Coming off a 4-1 victory against USC, UCLA women’s tennis (6-3, 1-1 Pac-12) will look to add to its three-match winning streak when it hosts California (4-5, 1-1) on Saturday and No. 18 Stanford (9-2, 2-0) on Sunday.

The Cardinal are on a six-match winning streak of their own, with their most recent victory being a 6-1 decision over San Francisco. On the other hand, the Golden Bears have lost five of their last seven matches, although they were victorious in their most recent conference contest against Colorado.

UCLA has won five of its last six matches, including a come-from-behind triumph against then-No. 4 Ohio State on Mar. 12.

Coach Stella Sampras Webster said she has been pleased with the direction in which the Bruins have trended as of late.

“It’s great to see them getting that success right now,” Sampras Webster said. “We want to keep getting better and peak in May, so I’m really happy with the way they’ve competed in the last few matches.”

The Bruins’ recent success has been in part due to impressive doubles play. The pairings of senior Sasha Vagramov and junior Vanessa Ong, as well as No. 6-ranked sophomores Kimmi Hance and Elise Wagle, have proven to be successful, with both duos winning their last three doubles matches each.

Wagle said her doubles success can be attributed to the chemistry she’s spent years building with Hance.

“Kimmi and I are best friends – she’s like a sister to me,” Wagle said. “We have different game styles, but now that we’ve played so many matches, we are used to each other’s balls and habits of movement.”

In addition to improving her doubles record, No. 78 Hance was recently awarded Pac-12 Player of the Week following her 6-2, 6-3 defeat of USC’s No. 61 Snow Han. This is the second week in a row that a Bruin has claimed the honor, with Vagramov earning the award two weeks ago after her clinching effort against the Buckeyes.

Hance said she was surprised but grateful to have been recognized.

“It’s so cool to be recognized amongst the whole Pac-12,” Hance said. “There are so many amazing players, so it means a lot.”

Sampras Webster also expressed gratitude for her players’ recent accolades.

“It’s nice to have Bruins getting Pac-12 Player of the Week; they’re both very deserving,” Sampras Webster said. “I’m very happy for them both.”

First serve against Cal is set for Saturday at noon, while Sunday’s match against Stanford will also begin at noon.

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