UCLA women's tennis wins NCAA title

UCLA Athletics

UCLA

Fifth-seeded UCLA defeated No. 7 North Carolina 4-3 Tuesday in a marathon match that lasted more than four hours to claim the 2014 NCAA women’s tennis championship. It is the second women’s tennis title for the Bruins, the 111th team ‘ship overall for the school and the 467th won by a Pac-12 program.

UCLA had not dropped a doubles point all year long heading into Tuesday, and that trend did not stop when the Bruins needed it most. It wasn’t easy, however, as the dubs tally didn’t come until the top-ranked team of Robin Anderson and Jennifer Brady outlasted the No. 3 twosome of Jamie Loeb and Hayley Carter in a tiebreaker on the No. 1 court.

All eyes were on court one as singles play began, because it doesn’t get better than No. 1 vs. No. 2. Top-ranked Loeb had beaten second-ranked Anderson twice in the fall without losing a set, but Tuesday would prove to be Anderson’s day. With the first set in the bag already, Anderson broke Loeb to take a 4-2 lead and would win out from there to earn a 6-2, 6-2 win over the previously 50-2 Loeb.

That victory made it 2-0 UCLA, but the Heels didn’t stay off the board for long. Next door on No. 2, there was another top-10 battle raging between fifth-ranked Carter and No. 8 Brady. The Pac-12 singles champ had not dropped a match since Feb. 10, but Carter posted a 6-2, 6-2 victory of her own to cut UCLA’s lead to 2-1 (credit Carter for fighting off three match points when trailing 1-5 to force another game). It wasn’t much longer before Kate Vialle took care of UCLA's Catherine Harrison on court five; her 6-4, 6-4 two-setter evened it up at 2-2.

That left the match to come down to courts three, four and six, all of which were in their third set. No. 4 showed the first signs of someone breaking away and providing a point, as UCLA’s Chanelle Van Nguyen crept ahead and eventually took out Ashley Dai on a match point in which Dai injured herself. Van Nguyen’s 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 triumph put UCLA in charge 3-2.

A great tussle was brewing on court No. 6 as well. Kaitlin Ray, who clinched the semifinal match for the Bruins against Florida, built a lead after taking the first set 6-3, but Tessa Lyons fought back to take the second and third sets 6-4 and 7-5. Three-all heading to court three.

By the time the focus shifted to Kyle McPhillips’ bout with 59th-ranked Caroline Price, the 2013 Pac-12 singles champ was already up 5-3 in the third set, having won the first set 6-4 on a beautiful lob winner to clinch and dropping the second 3-6. That said, there was still plenty of action to be had; 15 minutes of it in the ninth game of the third set, according to tennis reporter Colette Lewis. It looked like McPhillips would be broken by Price, trailing 0-40 in the game, but the Bruin saved three break points in a row to force deuce. However, Price showed gumption in return, fighting off three match points with decisive shots of her own. Eventually McPhillips would prevail after Price’s forehand went long on the fourth championship point, sending McPhillips’ teammates into a frenzy as they rushed the court to congratulate the clincher.

The 111 team titles for UCLA are the most in the NCAA.

Both teams will be well represented in the NCAA individual championships, May 21-26. UCLA’s Robin Anderson (No. 2 seed), Jennifer Brady (No. 8 seed), Chanelle Van Nguyen (9-16 seed) and Kyle McPhillips are set to compete in the singles draw, while the teams of Anderson/Brady and Harrison/McPhillips will participate in doubles competition. For North Carolina, Jamie Loeb (No. 1 seed), Hayley Carter (No. 7 seed) and Caroline Price will battle on in singles competition, while Carter/Loeb and Whitney Kay/Price will play in the doubles bracket.

Follow the links for the singles bracket and doubles bracket.

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