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UCLA women’s tennis to honor seniors in crosstown clash with USC

Sasha Vagramov smiles and pumps her fist after winning a point. The UCLA women’s tennis senior will lead the Bruins at the Los Angeles Tennis Center for the final time of her career on Friday. (Ella Greenberg Winnick/Daily Bruin)

Women's Tennis


USC
Friday, 1:30 p.m.

Los Angeles Tennis Center
UCLA Live Stream

By Pooja Kantemneni

April 20, 2023 1:12 p.m.

The Bruins will joust for the title of Los Angeles’ top collegiate women’s tennis team while paying homage to their four-year leaders.

No. 19 UCLA women’s tennis (12-6, 5-4 Pac-12) will culminate its 2023 regular season in a clash with USC (15-7, 6-3) on Friday at the LA Tennis Center. After a season of alternating winning and losing streaks, the Bruins will head into Senior Day on the heels of a three-match hot streak, which includes a statement victory over then-No. 5 Pepperdine.

After losing upperclassmen Elysia Bolton, Taylor Johnson and Abbey Forbes, UCLA entered this season fully embracing its younger players. But Friday will belong to the Bruins’ two seniors, Sasha Vagramov and Caroline Goldberg, who will be honored prior to the match.

Coach Stella Sampras Webster expressed her appreciation for Vagramov’s four years at UCLA.

“She’s so mature and carries herself so well. After every practice, she’s always thanking us coaches,” Sampras Webster said. “She’s a really special girl – a special woman now – and I’m really happy for her to be graduating from here.”

Sampras Webster continued by expressing her confidence in Vagramov’s future.

“She’s so coachable and so respectful, and I know she’s going to be very successful in whatever she does after UCLA,” Sampras Webster said.

Vagramov, the team captain, has played the most matches of any active Bruin, with 30 dual-singles and 28 dual-doubles wins under her belt. Hailing from Canada, Vagramov has become a two-time Pac-12 Player of the Week and three-time ITA Scholar-Athlete. She clinched a team-high four matches as a junior and ranked as high as No. 49 in the ITA singles rankings in 2021.

Vagromov said she’s grateful for her coach of four years.

“She’s an incredible leader. To have such a strong female coach was super special to me,” Vagramov said.

On the other hand, Goldberg has played in a team-low three singles and one doubles match, with her most recent appearance against UC San Diego on Tuesday representing her first action of the dual-match season. Goldberg entered the program as a walk-on, earning a scholarship last year. Although Goldberg did not see the court until her junior season, Sampras Webster maintained that she has been an integral member of the Bruins.

“Everyone goes to Caroline if there are any issues or anything,” Sampras Webster said. “She’s a great girl and someone that’s always going to be positive and so grateful to be here at UCLA.”

Sophomore Elise Wagle echoed Sampras Webster’s praise for the senior leaders.

“They’ve been the best role models. Even if they’re feeling a certain negative emotion, it’ll never be shown,” Wagle said.

Wagle played the first front-court dual-singles match of her career against UCSD, besting Grace Gamal 6-3, 6-1 at the No. 3 position. The sophomore comprises half of the nation’s No. 6 doubles pairing, alongside No. 106 sophomore Kimmi Hance. The duo sits atop a six-match winning streak, which includes a takedown of Pepperdine’s then-No. 1-ranked team.

Coming off a 4-0 victory at Oregon, the Trojans currently sit fourth in the Pac-12, two slots above the Bruins. The former are headlined by No. 8 Madison Sieg, who boasts a 14-1 dual-singles record. Sieg’s lone loss came via retirement to UCLA’s No. 17 Fangran Tian.

Tian remains undefeated in dual-singles play, most recently knocking off then-No. 11 Janice Tjen of Pepperdine and Oregon’s Sophie Luescher .

With a unique wave of support pulling through, the match against USC warrants similarly unique excitement, according to Vagramov.

“I’m super stoked. I have a ton of family and friends coming out to support,” Vagramov said. “The whole team is super fired up to get this win against ‘SC.”

First serve is set for 1:30 p.m. Friday at the LA Tennis Center.

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