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UCLA women’s tennis closes out regular-season home slate with win over Oregon

Junior Kimmi Hance reaches to hit the ball on the court. UCLA women’s tennis swept Oregon in its last regular season match at home. (Brianna Carlson/Daily Bruin)

Women's Tennis

No. 15 UCLA5

By Jack Nelson

April 14, 2024 12:13 p.m.

A loud declaration washed through a sea of largely empty seats.

It didn’t come from any chair umpire, coach or active player.

Instead, Kimmi Hance projected the rallying cry through an orange cone following each singles set won.

The junior had little trouble cutting through the breezy stillness of a morning overcast, looking on while business progressed as usual.

Closing out a perfect 10-0 home slate of the regular season, No. 15 UCLA women’s tennis (16-4, 8-1 Pac-12) took care of Oregon (10-12, 1-9) with a 5-0 shutout Saturday morning at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. The Bruins held their opponent off of the scoreboard for the eighth time in 2024, keeping themselves in a three-way tie for first place with the final weekend of conference play approaching.

“Everyone knows the most important part of the season is coming up, and everyone wants to have each other’s back,” said sophomore Tian Fangran. “We can rely on each other, bring out all we can do, all our energy and see where we can reach.”

Polarized ends of the spectrum developed on two courts in immediate proximity.

Court two of doubles play was the stage for Hance and sophomore Anne-Christine Lutkemeyer, ranked No. 65 nationally coming into the contest. Oregon’s Nina Geissler and Karin Young couldn’t catch a break – or a hold, for that matter – falling 6-0 to the duo in a mere 20 minutes.

But there was a struggle persisting right next to them. Freshmen Bianca Fernandez and Ahmani Guichard allowed Uxia Martinez Moral and Olivia Symons to reach a dominant 5-0, 40-0 advantage before barely fighting off the bagel in a 6-1 decision.

“As a team in doubles, if one starts off wrong, the other one also has to bring up their level, and unfortunately, both of us did not help each other,” Fernandez said. “Even though we were saying positive things, we kept making the same mistakes over and over and over again.”

Oregon came to Westwood with one doubles point across nine Pac-12 matches.

As court one came down to the wire, UCLA was at risk of joining lonely company.

Tian and junior Elise Wagle suffered a break-and-hold one-two punch from Oregon’s Jo-Yee Chan and Sophie Luescher that resulted in a 4-3, 30-0 lead for the opposition. In response, Tian served the ball everywhere the Ducks couldn’t reach – complemented by the power of the overhead from Wagle – to earn 4-4.

Multiple break points passed them by, but the No. 36-ranked Bruin tandem delivered on such an opportunity at 5-5, eventually submitting a dropshot winner to emerge 7-5.

It was a soft touch at the close for UCLA’s 17th doubles point in 20 matches.

“The wind was getting pretty gusty, they (the Ducks) were lobbing a lot. They were doing things that made our team maybe a little uncomfortable at first,” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “Both of them (Tian and Wagle) came up with big shots in big moments.”

The Bruins rode through singles play with early breaks on courts two, four and six, leading to four first-set triumphs. Hance’s cone calls were first audible after No. 68 Fernandez sealed her initial frame – “That’s a set on two, Bruins!”

Flexed to court two after a stint of six consecutive matches on three, the freshman brought forth a rekindled fire following a rough doubles outing.

“I just kind of tried to channel my anger into singles, and then I let it simmer down,” Fernandez said. “It let me settle in.”

Fernandez was the first to walk off of the court with victory in hand and was followed in order by Wagle, Lutkemeyer and No. 37 Tian, all of who completed their work in straight-set fashion. Only Lutkemeyer surrendered upward of four games in a frame, prevailing in an 8-6 first-set tiebreaker en route to clinching the shutout.

Tian’s 6-3, 6-1 result was more than just a cherry on top.

She completed another undefeated regular-season singles run at the Los Angeles Tennis Center and is now 18-0 all-time on home courts.

Dominance – a term familiar to a team with 14 wins in 15 attempts.

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Jack Nelson | Sports senior staff
Nelson is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats and a contributor on the men's tennis and women's tennis beats.
Nelson is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats and a contributor on the men's tennis and women's tennis beats.
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