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UCLA women’s tennis marks milestone victory with defeat of UC San Diego

Members of UCLA women’s tennis celebrate. To recognize coach Stella Sampras Webster’s 500th career win with the program on Tuesday, the team surprised her with a small ceremony after the match. (Ella Greenberg Winnick/Daily Bruin)

Women's Tennis

UC San Diego2
No. 19 UCLA5

By Natalie Glawe

April 19, 2023 1:49 p.m.

Once a final shot completed sophomore Ava Catanzarite’s match, a golden set of balloons in the shape of five-zero-zero, flower bouquets, treats and cheerful company flooded the courts.

Coach Stella Sampras Webster had just iced her 500th career win at UCLA.

“I was shocked,” Sampras Webster said. “It’s so nice of everyone to come out and recognize that.”

No. 19 UCLA women’s tennis (12-6, 5-4 Pac-12) claimed a 5-2 victory over UC San Diego (9-14, 1-7 Big West) on Tuesday at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. After the Bruins went undefeated in doubles play against the Tritons to snag the early point, senior Sasha Vagramov eventually claimed the fourth Bruin point to put the match away.

Vagramov said her victory in UCLA’s penultimate match of the regular season left her with feelings of gratitude and elation.

“I’m super pumped up all the way around,” Vagramov said. “I’m just feeling really grateful.”

The score was in the Bruins’ favor from the get-go, with swift singles victories delivered by both freshman Anne-Christine Lutkemeyer and sophomore Elise Wagle. Lutkemeyer notched her first 6-0 dual-singles set as a Bruin en route to a straight-sets triumph, while Wagle allowed just four games to her opponent without dropping a set.

In light of her decisive singles win, Wagle said this was her very first time playing on the front courts.

“I was pretty excited,” Wagle said. “It was just really nice playing more in terms of strategy and technical stuff instead of just winning, winning, winning.”

Playing a relatively low-caliber opponent created an opportunity for No. 17 freshman Fangran Tian to rest and for senior Caroline Goldberg to see her first action of the dual-match season. Despite falling short in both sets, Sampras Webster said Goldberg is an integral member of the team.

“She’s just a great girl,” Sampras Webster said. “She’s going to, I’m sure, be missed by a lot of the girls who depend on her for a lot of things.”

Wagle chimed in on the same note, highlighting her teammate’s reliability and relentless positivity.

“Even if she’s (Goldberg’s) feeling a certain way or certain negative emotion, it’ll never be shown,” Wagle said. “She’ll always be there, whether you win or lose, to support you.”

After the Bruin victory had been sealed at 4-1, sophomore Kimmi Hance and Catanzarite carried on battling for their own singles victories — the former succeeding in claiming the first set 6-3 and the second 6-2, and the latter losing a third-set tiebreaker.

With a final shot by UCSD’s Ella Pachl deemed in by the chair umpire, Catanzarite suffered a 1-6, 6-3, 0-1 (8-10) loss. However, following the final call, almost everyone in the stadium – including the UCLA coaching staff and Catanzarite herself – were quick to make disputing remarks. Even a UCSD fan in the stands alleged that the ball was out.

Despite the controversy, a feat had already been achieved – Sampras Webster had sealed her 500th career win.

“Wow, it’s a milestone,” Sampras Webster said. “I feel so honored to be here at UCLA for this long.”

With the Bruins’ final match of the regular season on tap for Friday, they now near the rapidly-approaching postseason on a winning streak.

And Sampras Webster continues to near the record books.

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Natalie Glawe
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