Court Coverage With Nina Pantic

May 13, 2010

Your UCLA women¡¦s tennis team recently enjoyed a historic week at the Pac 10 Championship in Ojai, California. I¡¦d definitely say it¡¦s a sign that the entire team is on a roll peaking at just the right time with the NCAA Regionals set to begin this Friday. Not only did we dominate the Pac 10 tournament, but our final match of the regular season was an impressive victory over our cross-town rivals. To add to the Bruin success, our men¡¦s team pulled out a huge upset by beating No. 4 USC that very same day in a clutch 4-3 showdown. With so much success this year, the team is working hard to stay motivated and focused in this final stretch. All year we¡¦ve been waiting for Athens and the NCAAs to come, and we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

We ended the regular season with a 19-3 record, and our final match was a dominating 6-1 win over the Women of Troy. We swept the doubles and only lost one match when USC won a match tie-breaker to claim its lone point of the day. While our day was very businesslike, the men¡¦s team added a huge highlight to their season by pulling off a 4-3 upset over USC. With the match tied at 3-3, the team¡¦s hopes hinged on freshman Maxime Tabatruong at court No. 6. Although it was his first road match at USC, he managed to battle back from a 4-1 deficit in the third set to seal the deal. He attempted to tear off his shirt in celebration, however the high quality adidas material was just too much for his freshman muscles. fº

After such an amazing end to our seasons, both teams headed to Ojai for the Pac 10 Championships. Ojai is a very unique setting for a tournament because the entire town prepares and celebrates the event. Ojai has a cozy small town feel. Everywhere you look there are cute, family run restaurants and coffee shops, and only a select few chain restaurants on the outskirts of town. One of the trademark UCLA traditions that we have in Ojai is the strawberry shortcake from Boccali¡¦s. This dessert isn¡¦t an everyday delicacy, as it¡¦s covered with about a pound of fresh strawberries and a heart-clogging amount of homemade whipped cream. Grant Chen, the team¡¦s director of operations, is so obsessed with the dish he stopped by on the last day of the tournament¡Kby himself. Anyway, the whole town is extremely welcoming, and I can¡¦t help but think that the presence of hundreds of tennis players must help their economy, as well as add to the town culture and tradition. The women¡¦s team made history by becoming the first team ever to sweep the Pac 10 singles and doubles, and Invitational singles and doubles draws. Senior Yasmin Schnack left her mark in Ojai by winning both the main draw singles and doubles (with her usual partner Andrea Remynse). All of our success enabled us to share the tournament team trophy with Stanford, who did well but clearly took home less hardware than we did. Stanford won the Pac 10 Conference title this year, but I must point out that their only loss of the season came at the hands of UCLA.

With the close of the season, we had our annual UCLA tennis banquet. It¡¦s a special evening because both teams get together and help celebrate the seniors and give thanks to everyone involved in UCLA tennis. For the girls, it¡¦s finally a reason to bring out the heels and dresses from the back of the closet. The guys suit up too, which is always a nice change. A few of them even took a fashion risk with matching fedoras. All of the girls showed up in classy evening wear, but I¡¦d say Maya Johansson won best dressed on the night. And the highlight of the evening had to be Yasmin Schnack¡¦s emotional, heartfelt speech. You see, it¡¦s a tradition for each senior to present a short speech and this year Yasmin was joined by the three seniors from the men¡¦s team: Haythem Abid, Matt Brooklyn, and Kallim Stewart. The goal of the speech is to blend the right amount of heartfelt thanks, with a comedic touch. Yasmin¡¦s was most cordial, and turned out perfect even though she had probably been quite nervous about the speech since her freshman year. I think everyone would agree that Abid won for most comedic, since his Tunisian accent just adds a little something special to his views on the college experience. Billy Martin, the head men¡¦s coach, brings out his comedic side at the banquet every year by dishing out the greatest jabs at his own players.

Although the team is eager to reach the round of 16 in Athens, we first have to conquer the NCAA Regionals this weekend. The women start things off on Friday at 1:00 p.m. against Army. Hopefully this weekend will be a continuation of Bruin victories and we would love it if you can come and support the team in its quest for NCAA Championship No. 106. Go Bruins!

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