Fifth-Seeded Women's Tennis Edges No. 4 Duke, 4-2 in NCAA Quarters
Athens, Ga. - After suffering an extremely close 4-3 loss to Duke in the final of the USTA/ITA National Team Indoors in February, the UCLA women's tennis team had a little extra motivation heading into Saturday's NCAA Quarterfinal showdown and it showed, as the fifth-seeded Bruins took down fourth-seeded Duke, 4-2 at Georgia's Dan Magill Tennis Complex. With the win, UCLA (25-2) reaches the NCAA Semifinals for the fourth year in a row and will now take on eighth-seeded Florida (23-5) on Monday at 1:00 p.m. (EST). The Gators upset top-seeded Georgia, 4-1 on Saturday.
"I thought we competed extremely well, and we had to in order to beat a team like Duke because they definitely have a great team," said UCLA head coach Stella Sampras Webster. "Overall I'm just really pleased and proud of my team. We remembered (the Team Indoor) match - it's hard to forget those type of matches. When we saw the draw we wanted to get to this point because we saw it as an opportunity to get back what we lost."
Similar to its meeting with the Blue Devils in Virginia earlier this year, the Bruins took the doubles point on Saturday following wins at court Nos. 1 and 3. UCLA actually moved out to comfortable leads at all three courts, with the first win coming at the No. 3 spot, where Courtney Dolehide and Chanelle Van Nguyen posted an 8-3 victory over Chalena Scholl and Annie Mulholland. Top-ranked Robin Anderson and Jennifer Brady would soon follow, as they won the battle of top 5 teams at court No. 1, downing fifth-ranked Beatrice Capra and Hanna Mar, 8-5. UCLA was leading 5-2 at court No. 2 when play was suspended. Saturday marked the 27th time in 27 matches this year that the Bruins have won the doubles point.
"I thought we came out really strong winning that doubles point," added Sampras Webster. "It was key for us because we know that Duke has great singles players. Even though we won the doubles point, we knew we still needed to fight because looking back at the Team Indoors we were in the same position. We won the doubles point and ended up losing 4-3."
UCLA knew that Duke (27-5) wasn't going to go down without a fight and the Bruins quickly found that out when the Blue Devils took a pair of straight-set victories to take a 2-1 lead in the match. Wins by Duke's Rachel Kahan at court No. 6 and Mar at court No. 3 suddenly gave the momentum back to the Blue Devils.
Already with first-set victories by Brady and Van Nguyen, UCLA got an added boost when Anderson pulled out a close tiebreaker at court No. 1. Van Nguyen would be next off, as she tied the dual-match score at 2-2 with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Scholl.
At time of Van Nguyen's victory, Anderson was up two breaks in the third set against Capra at court No. 1, while Brady was down a break at 4-5 in the second set at court No. 2. Playing back at court No. 5, Catherine Harrison was up 3-1 in the third set against Alyssa Smith.
Although she was broken while serving for the match up 5-2 against Capra at court No. 1, Anderson maintained her composure to return the favor in the very next game, taking a 7-6(5), 6-3 win to give UCLA a 3-2 lead.
With court No. 2 in the early stages of a third set, most of the fans then headed to court No. 5, where Harrison was on the verge of closing out Smith. Harrison, who actually lost the first set, dropped just four games in the final two sets, storming back to take a 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 victory to clinch the win for the Bruins.
"In the first set I was wound super tight," said Harrison. "I came out here and I was really loud when I won points and when I lost points and I don't play good tennis when I'm like that. After the first set I had a little chat with myself and said that I needed to be completely calm the entire time. I just wanted to focus on the next point and it worked."
In the only other match still on court at the time of Harrison's win, Brady was up 1-0 against Goldfield at court No. 2.
The fifth-seeded Bruins are suddenly the favorite heading into the semifinals, as the other three remaining teams are all seeded lower (No. 7, North Carolina, No. 8 Florida and No. 11 Stanford).
#3 UCLA 4, #5 Duke 2
May 17, 2014 at Athens, GA (Dan Magill Tennis Complex)
|1. #1 Anderson/Brady (UCLA) def. #5 Capra/Mar (DUKE) 8-5|
|2. #9 Harrison/McPhillips (UCLA) vs. #36 Goldfeld/Smith (DUKE) 5-2, unfinished|
|3. Courtney Dolehide/Van Nguyen (UCLA) def. #69 Scholl/Annie Mulholland (DUKE) 8-3|
UCLA Wins Doubles Point
|1. #2 Robin Anderson (UCLA) def. #7 Beatrice Capra (DUKE) 7-6(5), 6-3|
|2. #8 Jennifer Brady (UCLA) vs. #27 Ester Goldfeld (DUKE) 6-4, 4-6, 1-0, unfinished|
|3. #36 Hanna Mar (DUKE) def. #38 Kyle McPhillips (UCLA) 6-1, 6-3|
|4. #13 Chanelle Van Nguyen (UCLA) def. #116 Chalena Scholl (DUKE) 6-4, 7-5|
|5. #75 Catherine Harrison (UCLA) def. Alyssa Smith (DUKE) 5-7, 6-1, 6-3|
|6. Rachel Kahan (DUKE) def. Kaitlin Ray (UCLA) 6-1, 6-2|
|Duke 27-5; National ranking #5|
|UCLA 25-2; National ranking #3|
|Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (6,3,4,1,5)|