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UCLA women’s tennis enters Elite Eight on road to 3rd NCAA title

Sophomore Tian Fangran drives to hit a low forehand. No. 8 seed UCLA women’s tennis is headed to the Elite Eight of the NCAA championships. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Women's Tennis

No. 16 seed Tennessee
Friday, 4:30 p.m.

No TV info

By Chloe Agas

May 14, 2024 2:39 p.m.

This post was updated May 14 at 10:24 p.m.

The sun beams down on the court like a spotlight, illuminating players’ unyielding aspiration for victory.

Across the net, dreams collide with sweat and determination in each potent serve and volley.

As temperatures begin to rise, teams must adjust to the Southwest conditions.

“The weather is going to be a challenge for us,” said sophomore Tian Fangran. “We have to adjust and learn how to deal with different conditions going into this quarterfinal.”

No. 8 seed UCLA women’s tennis (21-5, 9-1 Pac-12) will get on the road to face No. 16 seed Tennessee (21-7, 9-4, SEC) in the Elite Eight of the NCAA championships Friday afternoon at the Greenwood Tennis Center in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

“It’s not easy,” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “Teams are so competitive these days that it’s tough to get to the final site.”

Last year, the Bruins fell to then-No. 11 seed Iowa State in the third round of the NCAA championships. Sampras Webster said the setback ultimately motivated the team to step up as it travels to compete in the Elite Eight this year.

“Losing the Sweet 16, it was tough. It’s definitely been in my thoughts,” she said. “I think that’s what makes it so special – not being able to make it last year, and now this year, clinching it and being able to go.”

As the Super Regionals peaked last Friday, all eyes were on court six as freshman Ahmani Guichard took on Texas’ Vivian Ovrootsky. The Bruin ultimately clinched the winning point, propelling UCLA’s entry into the Elite Eight.

For Guichard, the true challenge lies in adapting to the demands of playing away matches.

“Now, nobody’s playing at home,” Guichard said. “Everyone who’s left in the tournament has to adjust. It’s who’s going to battle the hardest – who’s going to be ready to go from the start.”

Last year, then-freshman Tian plowed through her run toward the NCAA singles championship, securing the second individual title in program history.

Heading to Stillwater this year, the sophomore said the Bruins’ chemistry motivates them to perform at their peak and achieve ultimate feats.

“Our team is really close, and everyone loves each other,” Tian said. “We will win for each other – we’re really excited, and I think we will try to do our best.”

As Friday looms, UCLA’s quarterfinal appearance marks its 27th in program history and the first since 2021. With three wins, the Bruins could secure their third NCAA title.

“I’m feeling the energy at a final site,” Sampras Webster said. “I’m excited that they’re going to experience this, and we’re looking forward to it.”

The Bruins are set to begin service point at 4:30 p.m. Friday.

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Chloe Agas
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