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Pro Bruin Rundown: Brady, Hollingshead and Billings rise above setbacks to claim victory

UCLA women’s tennis alumnus Jennifer Brady eyes the ball while preparing for a forehand. Brady returned to competition Monday after being out for two years because of injury. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Alexis Hinkle

July 21, 2023 12:52 p.m.

This post was updated July 23 at 6:51 p.m.

As UCLA Athletics takes a break for the summer, professional sports are still in full swing, with many Bruin alumni representing. Each week during the summer, Daily Bruin Sports will take a look at the standout performances of former UCLA greats from the past week as we count down the days until fall.

Women’s tennis: Jennifer Brady

After 10 years of a successful professional career culminating in her highest ranking at No. 13 in 2021, UCLA women’s tennis alumnus Jennifer Brady was forced to the sidelines by injury.

But this week, Brady conquered her setback by stepping onto the court for the first time after a two-year hiatus.

Not only did she make it back, but she won.

Success is not an unfamiliar feeling for Brady. She played for UCLA from 2013 to 2015, earning multiple accolades, including Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and Singles All-American. As a freshman, she was ranked eighth in the country and led the Bruins in singles victories.

Her achievements continued into her post-collegiate professional career. Although she was slow to find success at first – ranking No. 111 in singles and playing in only six matches in 2016 – Brady did not let that slow her down.

By 2021, then-world No. 13 Brady won over 70% of her service games and was a finalist at the 2021 Australian Open. She had reached new heights, but knee and foot injuries prevented her from competing.

After two years of rehabilitation, Brady returned Monday and defeated Japan’s Kyoka Okamura 6-2, 6-3 in her first-round match at the ITF World Tennis Tour.

Brady’s winning comeback is proof of the player she once was and the player she is getting the chance to continue being.

Men’s soccer: Ryan Hollingshead, LAFC

Former Bruin Ryan Hollingshead has a decade of professional experience, and yet, he is still experiencing firsts.

After playing with UCLA men’s soccer for four years and competing for two MLS teams, Hollingshead has finally made the MLS All-Star team.

The then-midfielder/forward was a Bruin from 2009 to 2012 before FC Dallas selected Hollingshead in the second round of the 2013 MLS Draft. In his fourth season, he sustained fractures in his spine in a car accident that elicited fears he could be paralyzed, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Hollingshead recovered and returned to pitch the following year, starting in seven matches across 18 games, and he hasn’t stopped since.

After eight years in Texas, the now-defender is back at his stomping grounds playing for LAFC. Up to the 2023 season, he has won over 70% of his tackles and completed 82% of his passes. His successes earned him a start for the MLS All-Star team Wednesday.

Despite the team’s loss to Arsenal, Hollingshead defeated the years of obstacles that seemed to be in his way en route to All-Star glory.

Women’s basketball: Monique Billings, Atlanta Dream

Monique Billings, typically a bench player, has stepped up her game in the 2023 WNBA season.

Although the former Bruin has only started in two games this year, Billings was not unfamiliar with a starting role while playing for UCLA women’s basketball.

Billings earned All-Pac-12 honors every single year from 2015 to 2018 and started in all but one game from her sophomore season onward. Not only was she a leader during her four years, but the forward still remains first on UCLA women’s basketball all-time games played, total rebounds and blocks list.

The Atlanta Dream selected her No. 15 overall in the second round of the 2018 WNBA Draft, and she has played with the team her entire professional career. This season, Billings is averaging five points per game and 4.2 rebounds.

Billings has filled in for All-Star forward Cheyenne Parker in recent games and has posted a plus/minus above 10 in five of her past eight contests, seven of which were wins for the Dream.

In Tuesday’s contest against the Minnesota Lynx, the backup forward proved herself early with two back-to-back shots, causing the Lynx to call an early timeout. She played her most minutes yet this season and contributed to the Dream’s seventh consecutive win with six points, four rebounds, one steal and one block.

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Alexis Hinkle
Hinkle is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, women's tennis, men's golf and track and field beats. She was previously a reporter on the women's basketball and beach volleyball beats. She is also a second-year sociology student.
Hinkle is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, women's tennis, men's golf and track and field beats. She was previously a reporter on the women's basketball and beach volleyball beats. She is also a second-year sociology student.
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