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Defeating No. 6 Texas, No. 16 UCLA women’s tennis matches program in all-time wins

Sophomore Anne-Christine Lutkemeyer readies to hit the ball. Lutkemeyer won both her doubles and singles match against the Longhorns. (Daily Bruin file photo)

Women's tennis

No. 6 Texas2
No. 16 UCLA5

By Chloe Agas

Jan. 20, 2024 11:33 a.m.

This post was updated Jan. 21 at 11:11 p.m.

The Bruins shone through a cloudy forecast against the Longhorns on Friday.

Two forfeited singles matches and a postponement of the next day’s contest loomed over their heads.

But in its first season opener against a top-10 opponent in 23 years, No. 16 UCLA women’s tennis (1-0) didn’t let the gloom impact it as it defeated No. 6 Texas (0-1) in a 5-2 victory at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. The Bruins have now matched the Longhorns in all-time wins against each other at 11.

Freshman Ahmani Guichard and sophomore Anne-Christine Lutkemeyer secured the first doubles win of the day, defeating Texas’ Vivian Ovrootsky and Charlotte Chavatipon 6-3 to take the set. Soon after, the Longhorns evened the match with a 6-2 defeat over juniors Kimmi Hance and Elise Wagle.

Meanwhile, the powerhouse duo of sophomore Fangran Tian and freshman Bianca Fernandez attempted to control the court. Amid intense rallies and a break-point conversion, the underclassmen evened the set at 5-5.

“I feel like doubles is a little different from singles because it comes down to us at the end,” Tian said. “I feel like we got to do something to win this point, and we got to earn it.”

Coming down to the final tiebreak, Tian took the last serve as the Longhorns struggled to make a return. And when Texas returned the ball on the outside of the line, cheers began to roar in the LA Tennis Center as the Bruins took the doubles point.

Before entering singles play, two Texas players were forced to forfeit because of illness. But with four singles matches remaining, spectators sat at the edge of their seats, awaiting what ultimately was the Bruins’ first top-10 win in over two decades in the first match of the season.

Tian carried a 3-1 lead in the first set against the Longhorns’ Sabina Zeynalova. The defending NCAA singles champion ultimately defeated her opponent on court one 7-6(6), 6-4.

“I want to just step it up and be more aggressive,” Tian said. “I try to put in more energy and be more positive. And I think that’s the key to winning the match.”

After Tian’s win, the Bruins were just one point away from taking down the Longhorns. But Fernandez and Hance were unable to secure the point on their courts with a retirement and loss, respectively.

Lutkemeyer, on the other hand, cruised through her singles match, taking down Texas’ Ovrootsky 6-2, 6-1.

“I’ve been working on my serve a lot and working on kind of finding my identity on the court,” Lutkemeyer said. “I’m also working on an aggressive game style, and it’s been going well for me, so I’ll be continuing with that.”

Coach Stella Sampras Webster said the team was eager to claim this matchup from the beginning.

“The girls have been locked in and practicing hard,” Sampras Webster said. “Everyone was excited to get to play a top team here at home. They believed that they could win.”

Following the top-10 victory, UCLA will next face unranked Oklahoma State in Ames, Iowa, to continue the spring season.

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Chloe Agas
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