NCAA women's tennis championships: UCLA advances to finals

UCLA Athletics

UCLA is moving on the finals after winning its semifinal-round matchup Monday at the NCAA women's tennis championships on Monday in Waco, Texas, while USC bowed out in the Final Four.

UCLA

The defending champs are one step away from winning their second consecutive crown after the seventh-seeded Bruins dominated singles play to defeat sixth-ranked Georgia, 4-1. UCLA will play Vanderbilt in the NCAA women’s tennis championship finals Tuesday at 3 p.m. PT.

While Georgia took the doubles point thanks to Lauren Herring and Ellen Perez edging Robin Anderson and Jennifer Brady, 8-7, the Bruins took over in singles play, dropping just two sets on all six singles courts. Brady made up for the doubles misstep with a convincing 6-3, 6-0 victory over Silvia Garcia on court three, while Catherine Harrison followed minutes later with a dominating 6-1, 6-3 win at No. 2 singles over freshman Kennedy Shaffer to give the Bruins a 2-1 edge.

Chanelle Van Nguyen was next to strike, as the senior from Miami handled Perez at No. 2 singles, 6-3, 6-3, to put UCLA one point away from the finals. The clincher came from the bottom of the lineup, where senior Kaitlin Ray defeated Caroline Brinson, 7-6, 6-2, at No. 6 singles.

UCLA will be in pursuit of its third national championship when it plays the Commodores Tuesday, after winning in 2008 and 2014. This is UCLA’s ninth appearance in the final round of the NCAA women’s tennis championships. Georgia, on the other hand, wraps up the year 24-7. The Bulldogs made it to the national semifinals for the first time since 2009.

USC

The No. 1 seed is out of the NCAA women’s tennis team championships after USC’s 4-0 loss to Vanderbilt Monday night in large thanks to strong play at the top of the Commodores’ singles lineup.

Vanderbilt got off to a good start by clinching the doubles point on court two, with Ashleigh Antal and Astra Sharma edging Giuliana Olmos and Zoë Scandalis, 8-6, and continued the good vibes in singles play by taking the first set on four of the six courts. The ‘Dores went up, 2-0, when Courtney Colton handled Madison Westby, 6-1, 6-2, on court four.

Once again, it was back of the lineup that was doing the heavy lifting for USC, as freshmen Gabby Smith and Meredith Xeploeas were the two Trojans to take their first sets.

That said, Vanderbilt pushed USC to the brink when Frances Altick defeated Scandalis, 6-2, 6-2, at No. 3. The final blow came from No. 2 singles, where Sharma eliminated the Trojans by taking down Olmos in three sets (6-2, 3-6, 6-2).

USC advanced to the Final Four for the first time since 2012 and third time in 10 seasons. Olmos, Santamaria, Scandalis and Westby are all in the NCAA singles bracket, while Olmos/Scandalis and Katz/Santamaria are in the doubles draw.

This is the second appearance all time for the Commodores in the title bout. Vanderbilt last went to the finals in 2001, when it was swept by Stanford.

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