NCAA women's tennis championships: UCLA loses to Vanderbilt in finals

UCLA Athletics


Vanderbilt defeated UCLA, 4-2, in a five-hour marathon match to claim the 2015 NCAA women’s tennis team championship Tuesday night in Waco, Texas. It is the Commodores’ first national championship in women’s tennis and third team title overall for the school, claiming previous natties in 2007 in bowling and 2014 in baseball.

In doubles play, Catherine Harrison and Kyle McPhillips defeated Ashleigh Antal and Astra Sharma on court two to push the decider to court three, snapping the Vandy duo’s 19-match win streak. However, Frances Altick and Marie Casares clinched the doubles point for the Commodores by defeating Chanelle Van Nguyen and Maia Magill, 8-5, taking command of court three by getting out to a 5-0 lead on the Bruins’ tandem.

Falling behind, 1-0, didn’t faze UCLA, which had lost the doubles point in two of their last three NCAA tournament matches and still managed 4-1 victories against Texas A&M in the Sweet 16 and Georgia in the Final Four. Despite going down, 2-0, after Antal edged Kaitlin Ray in a second-set tiebreaker (6-1, 7-6), top-ranked singles player Robin Anderson quickly put the Bruins on the board with a 6-4, 6-1 triumph over Sydney Campbell on court one. And, with Jennifer Brady holding a 5-2 lead in the second set after taking the first over Altick, it looked like things were evening up for the defending champs. However, Altick broke back with Brady serving at 5-3 and eventually forced a deuce set.

Meanwhile, Harrison had a shot carom wide off the net to give Courtney Colton a 7-5, 6-4 win at No. 4 singles and Vanderbilt a 3-1 overall edge. That, combined with Casares’ forehand winner on court five to take a 6-5 second-set lead over McPhillips (who clinched UCLA’s 2014 championship with a three-set victory on court three over Tar Heel Caroline Price), put Vanderbilt a game away from the national championship. But McPhillips broke Casares to force a second-set tiebreaker (getting break point on a Casares double fault), winning the tiebreaker 7-4 to force a third set.

Back at No. 3 singles, Brady broke Altick trailing 5-6 to force a second-set tiebreaker of her own. Brady eventually won the tiebreaker in an unconventional way – at 5-5 in the tiebreaker, the chair umpire overturned a call by Altick that Brady hit a shot wide down the line. Since it was the third overturned call of the match, Brady was awarded an additional point, giving her the tiebreaker, 7-5, and a 6-4, 7-6(5) win to get the Bruins within 3-2.

This left the match in the hands of a couple of third-setters on courts two and five. With the McPhillips/Casares tussle moving a tad slowly on five, all eyes were on court two, where Sharma was a game away from giving the Commodores the title. While Van Nguyen fought off two championship points, Sharma fought off three game points and just outlasted the senior from Miami, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, to give the ‘Dores their first title in tennis.

Although the #QuestFor113 will have to shift over to the diamond sports, the Bruins will be plenty busy in the singles and doubles tournaments (May 20-25). Anderson, Brady, Van Nguyen, McPhillips and Harrison will play in the singles bracket, while Harrison/McPhillips and Anderson/Brady will do work in the doubles tournament. UCLA’s five selections in the singles tournament are the most of any school this year. Anderson is the No. 1 seed in the singles bracket. will have daily updates for men’s and women’s singles and doubles play.

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