NCAA tennis: UCLA, USC duos secure semifinals slots

With four tandems still in the hunt for the NCAA women's doubles championship, The Conference of Champions constitutes half of the bracket's final four. Heading into Sunday's semifinals matches, one thing is for the sure: the next national champion will come from either the Pac-12 or the SEC.


The last Pac-12 school to secure its spot in the semis also did it in the most dramatic fashion of the day. The Bruins' tandem of Skylar Morton and Robin Anderson battled to a nail-biting three-set victory, 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(3), over the Nebraska duo of Patricia Veresova and Mary Weatherholt.

Saturday's win was extra sweet for Anderson who was able to get a little revenge on one of the Huskers. On Friday, the UCLA sophomore was upset by Weatherholt on the singles side of the NCAA championships bracket in a three-set match. The loss eliminated the last of the women's individual competitors for the Bruins.

[Related: NCAA women's doubles bracket]

The No. 14 seeded combination of Morton and Anderson will go up against the No. 7 seeded duo of Alexa Guarachi and Mary Anne Macfarlane from Alabama. UCLA could benefit from the Crimson Tide's success. Today, Guarachi also qualified for Sunday's singles semis to be played immediately before her doubles showdown with the Bruins. The Alabama-UCLA match is set to begin after 2 p.m. PT, depending on weather conditions and court availability.


Not to be outdone by their Los Angeles rival, the Trojans' Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria won their doubles matchup in convincing fashion with a 6-2, 6-0 win over the Illinois duo of Rachael White and Melissa Kopinksi. The No. 2 seeded tandem is just the second in USC history to advance this far in the NCAA doubles tournament. Two years ago, Christian was part of the first Trojan team to qualify for the national semifinals. Now paired with her longtime friend Santamaria, the junior will hope to advance into uncharted tournament territory.

[Related: USC's Christian and Santamaria claim 2013 Pac-12 doubles title]

Christian and Santamaria wil square off against the No. 4 seeded combination of Brynn Boren and Kata Szekely from Tennessee. Despite the Vols' slightly lower seeding, Boren and Szekely won't be an easy matchup. Tennessee's tandem is 2-0 this season against doubles teams ranked in the top five in the country.


While representing half of the final four in the doubles bracket is more than a decent showing for the Pac-12, on Saturday there was the opportunity to capture a third semifinals slot. But the Sun Devils' team of Jacqueline Cako and Nicole Smith fell short in their bid to advance out of the Round of Eight, falling in straight sets (6-2, 6-2) to Tennessee's Boren and Szekely.

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The quarterfinals loss was the final collegiate match for both members of the senior duo. Cako, who also advanced to the Round of 16 in the singles championship before being eliminated, is planning to train this summer in Tempe before trying to join the professional circuit.

As for the rest of the Sun Devils team, the 2012-2013 campaign earned them one of their highest winning percentages (.739) since 2001 and one of the best win-loss records (17-6) under the guidance of head coach Sheila McInerney.

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