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UCLA women’s tennis defeats Loyola Marymount, sweeps Cal State Fullerton at home

Freshman Bianca Fernandez hits a forehand. Fernandez won both of her singles matches against the Lions and Titans. (Michael Gallagher/Daily Bruin)

Women's Tennis

Loyola Marymount1
Cal State Fullerton0

By Chloe Agas

Feb. 27, 2024 12:56 p.m.

Familiarity was at the cornerstone of the Bruins’ success this weekend.

After two consecutive losses on the road, UCLA women’s tennis (4-3) returned to the Los Angeles Tennis Center and took down Loyola Marymount (1-4) in a 6-1 feat on Friday and swept Cal State Fullerton (5-2, 1-0 Big West) 7-0 on Saturday. The weekend’s victories marked the Bruins’ first matchups at home since the season opener on Jan. 19.

Through 19 matchless days prior to Friday, the Bruins worked on matchplay techniques.

“We worked on specific things,” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “Getting a higher percentage of first serves and finishing points. Just a lot that we needed to clean up, and getting ready to compete.”

Freshman Ahmani Guichard and sophomore Anne-Christine Lutkemeyer secured the first doubles win on Friday, defeating Romane Longueville and Kim-Michaela Zahraj 6-1. Soon after, juniors Kimmi Hance and Elise Wagle secured a 6-3 win of their own to grant UCLA the doubles point.

In singles action, the Bruins prevailed through break points and tiebreakers. Freshman Bianca Fernandez took her first set against Isabella Tcherkes-Zade. Through break-points, Fernandez ultimately won 6-4, 6-1 to put the Bruins up first.

“I was much more nervous,” Fernandez said. “During the break points, I look over at the coaches, think about positive things, and they would reassure me.”

After Fernandez’s win, redshirt senior Sasha Vagramov and Wagle contributed more tallies for UCLA. Wagle also prevailed through a series of break points in the first set, winning 6-3, 6-1 against Longueville.

“There’s always going to be pressure points and every match you play,” Wagle said. “I try and play every practice match as a real match, trying to keep up my energy and keep my feet moving.”

Lutkemeyer won the final point of her match after a tiebreak in the first set. She capped off the match with a backhand receive, winning 7-6(4), 6-3 against Fiona Arrese and cemented the Bruin victory.

After taking down the Lions 6-1 – their first victory in nearly a month – the Bruins took on the Titans for the first time in 15 years.

Saturday morning began with typical doubles action, but the Bruins presented a new doubles lineup. Lutkemeyer and sophomore Tian Fangran competed against Fullerton’s Natalie Duffy and Kaytlin Taylor, where the duo won the first doubles match of the day 6-2 with an at-net shot from Tian.

Fernandez once again secured the first point for the Bruins in her singles match, winning 6-0, 6-2. The freshman said she worked tirelessly over the 19-day break.

“The coaches have noticed a couple of weaknesses that we’ve been showing during the last two losses, and we wanted to tackle that,” Fernandez said. “On the personal side, I would say soul searching, looking for tiny little changes and how to keep with the momentum.”

Sampras-Webster said the familiar atmosphere contributes to the team’s performance.

“They love it when we have fans that are cheering them on and supporting them,” Sampras-Webster said. “It just makes them more motivated to win, and it’s just been great being at home.”

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Chloe Agas
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