UCLA Women's Tennis Falls in Title Match

By Ajaybir Behniwal Daily Bruin

May 23, 2007

Los Angeles, CA (CSTV U-WIRE) -- ATHENS, Ga. - As the UCLA women's tennis team watched Georgia Tech fight its way to a national championship on Tuesday night, there was very little that could be done.

The No. 12 Bruins (21-8) finally saw their incredible run come to an end in the NCAA Championship match against a Yellow Jacket team that outplayed them down the stretch to capture the university's first-ever NCAA Women's Tennis Championship by a 4-2 score.

'They were a really tough team and they fought really hard down to the wire,' freshman Yasmin Schnack said.

With the No. 3 Yellow Jackets ahead 3-2 and Bruin junior Tracy Lin fighting in what would be the decisive match on Court 2, the momentum quickly shifted in the direction of Georgia Tech senior and recipient of the Most Outstanding Player award Alison Silverio.

Sliverio got off to a quick start in the third after splitting the first two with Lin by breaking the Bruin's serve and then pounding out three straight games to take a 4-0 lead that would not be taken away from her.

'Tracy got off to a bad start and Silverio just played unbelievable,' UCLA coach Stella Sampras Webster said. 'I don't think Tracy lost that match, but Alison just won it by executing her shots. Tracy by no means played poorly.'

Lin felt as though she had plenty of opportunities during the first set to capture it and go ahead of Silverio early and that the momentum she gained after winning the second set would carry into the third set, but her opponent showed otherwise.

'When we went back out there, she turned it up a notch,' Lin said.

'She was just the better player tonight.'

After capturing the doubles point as they have in every match of the NCAA Championships this season, the Bruins took the singles courts and won just two out of six first sets in all the matches.

However, Lin, and fellow junior Elizabeth Lumpkin came back to win their respective second sets. The tables turned on Court 5 where Alex McGoodwin lost her second set after coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win the first.

McGoodwin's opponent, Christy Striplin, was able to adapt to the Bruin captain's serve-and-volley game by hitting passing shot after passing shot, forcing McGoodwin to play from the baseline.

'She was coming up with some really good shots and it was making my life difficult so I had to kind of revert to staying on the baseline some more,' McGoodwin said.

'She did what she does well and I didn't get to do what I do well as much.'

Though the Bruins weren't able to do what they had hoped when they entered the match and win a national championship, the team still remained optimistic about the future. The team realized their accomplishments in this season's postseason were far above and beyond what anyone had anticipated.

Entering the championship match as the lowest-ever seed and having defeated No. 1 Stanford to ensure the Cardinal didn't make the NCAA Championship match for the first time since 1998, the Bruins found themselves as the underdog, but felt they gave everything they had left after three straight days of play on the courts.

'It's unbelievable that we got this far, and at the same time, it's just a huge step in this entire program, and it just gives us that belief that we can do it,' Lin said. 'It was a great season for us, when we take a step back and look at it.'

The Bruin women's tennis team, after the key addition of the nation's top recruit, Andrea Remynse, is looking forward to building off this season's run to the title match.

The team hopes to reach the same point next season and end with a different result.

UCLA will be losing McGoodwin, however, the team's vocal leader throughout the season, but will be returning the Pac-10 doubles champion duo of Schnack and junior Riza Zalameda.

With all the experience the Bruins acquired and the talent of incoming Remynse, the UCLA women's tennis team feels that it is in a solid position heading into the next season.

'It's exciting to just build off of this because we've got a great freshman coming in next year and us getting to the finals just shows that UCLA can be one of the top teams in the country, and it's recognized now after this match,' Sampras Webster said.

'I think we're looking forward to using this experience as motivation for next year and next season,' Lumpkin added.

'We know that the amount of work we put in is going to pay off at some point next season.'

And even though the Bruins would like to put the loss they suffered Tuesday in the past, Lin knows that it will be a match that everyone on the team will never forget. At the same time, however, the junior feels that it will only better the team and help them understand what needs to be done in order to go deep into the NCAA Championships.

'Next time we're going to take it for real,' Lin said.

'We're going to remember this loss forever and just use it to push ourselves harder until we get that last win.'

(C) 2007 Daily Bruin via CSTV U-WIRE

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