2000 Season In Review
Entering the season, head coach Stella Sampras made no secret to the factthat the 2000 Bruins were the most talented group of players sheï¿½s had sincetaking over the program in 1997. After all, UCLA had three returningAll-Americans in Amanda Basica, Annica Cooper and Elizabeth Schmidt. Addfreshmen Sara Walker and Abigail Spears and the addition of a healthyCristina Popescu to the mix and UCLAï¿½s top-six was as good as anybodyï¿½s inthe country. Sampras, however, knew that the key to winning a nationaltitle in 2000 depended on UCLA staying healthy, and when it was all said anddone, injuries just might have cost the Bruins a legitimate shot at theirsecond national title.
Popescu, a former No. 1 player who has been riddled with injuries sincearriving in Westwood in 1997, did not play a singles match all season. ZanaZlebnik, a top-20 player at Texas Tech before transferring to UCLA, playedin just four matches. Petya Marinova saw action in just 11 of the Bruinsï¿½26 dual matches.
Despite all the injuries, UCLA knocked off Texas in the round of 16 at theNCAA Championships, setting up a quarterfinal showdown with undefeatedStanford. In the end, however, a very experienced and much healthierCardinal squad outlasted UCLA, ending the Bruins season pre-maturely. UCLAfinished with a 17-9 overall record and a second-place finish in the highlycompetitive Pac-10 Conference. The Bruins finished sixth in the final ITAteam rankings, exactly where they started to begin the season.
Probably the biggest surprise individually for Sampras and the Bruins in2000 was Walkerï¿½s rapid transition from juniors to the college level. The2000 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, Walker finished the season with a 35-10overall record, earning first-team All-Pac-10 and All-America honors.UCLAï¿½s No. 1 player the entire season, she ended the year ranked fourth inthe final ITA singles rankings, winning the Pac-10 Championship.
Spears and transfer Catherine Hawley were also pleasant surprises for UCLAlast year. Spears, a Pac-10 honorable mention selection, finished secondonly to Walker in victories with 28. Hawley posted 19 wins on the seasonprimarily at the No. 6 position.
The Bruinsï¿½ All-American trio of Basica, Cooper and Schmidt attributed foralmost half of UCLAï¿½s victories last season, helping the Bruins pullregular-season upsets over Texas, USC and Cal. For her efforts, Cooper wasnamed a second-team All-Pac-10 selection, and all three went on to earnAll-Pac-10 Academic honors.