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No. 5 Women's Tennis Returns Home to Face Utah, Colorado

Mar 17, 2021
Taylor Johnson (Photo: Jaylynne Heffernan)

Match Notes (PDF)

Friday, March 19/1:30 PM PT
    Saturday, March 20/12:00 PM PT
Live Stream/Live Stats:
Series vs. Utah: UCLA leads, 18-0
Series vs. Colorado: UCLA leads, 9-0
Last Meeting vs. Utah: UCLA won 4-0 on April 5, 2019
Last Meeting vs. Colorado: UCLA won 4-0 on April 6, 2019

Following nine road dates that spanned the month of February and the first half of March, the No. 5 UCLA women's tennis team returns to Los Angeles Tennis Center this week for Pac-12 matches against Utah and Colorado. Fifty-three days after defeating Texas A&M in ITA Kickoff Weekend play, the Bruins (8-3, 2-0 Pac-12) meet the Utes (6-6, 0-3) Friday at LATC. First serve is set for 1:30 p.m., PT. The Buffaloes (7-4, 1-2) visit Saturday at 12 p.m. UCLA has not faced either program since April 2019.

Fans are not permitted to attend events at UCLA Athletics venues, including Los Angeles Tennis Center, in adherence to the latest COVID-19 guidelines set by the state of California and Los Angeles County. Live streaming and live scoring for all home UCLA women's tennis matches will be available HERE.

UCLA women's tennis holds a combined 27-0 all-time record against Utah (18-0) and Colorado (9-0). It has not faced either program since 2019. The Bruins did not drop a set en route to a 4-0 defeat of the Utes at Los Angeles Tennis Center on April 5, 2019. Gabby Andrews clinched the shutout, supporting the efforts of Elysia Bolton and Ayan Broomfield on the singles courts. The next day, Bolton locked up a Senior Day sweep of the Buffaloes. Seniors Andrews and Broomfield teamed for a 6-0 doubles win and senior Alaina Miller also prevailed in singles play. Taylor Johnson was UCLA's third victorious singles player.

No. 5 UCLA was edged out by No. 4 Pepperdine, 4-3, at Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center on March 12. The Waves triumphed in two third sets, including one on Court 2, where Jessica Failla prevailed over Jada Hart to decide the match. The Bruins captured the doubles point and the initial two wins in singles play, but dropped the remaining contests. Abbey Forbes turned in a straight-set victory against Pepperdine's Ashley Lahey, who is the No. 1 player in the Oracle ITA singles rankings. Annette Goulak was responsible for UCLA's second singles win.

One season removed from collecting five of eight Pac-12 Player of the Week awards, UCLA student-athletes have received three conference honors in 2021. Elysia Bolton, who was on court for the first and final points of the Bruins' ITA Kickoff Weekend win over Texas A&M, received the third of her career. Jada Hart brought in the sixth of her time at UCLA after a trip to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships that included singles wins over No. 94 Lulu Sun of Texas and No. 45 Lexi Ryngler of Pepperdine. Most recently, Abbey Forbes earned her second-career POTW nod after knocking off the nation's No. 1 player, Ashley Lahey of Pepperdine, in the Bruins' 4-3 loss to the Waves. UCLA women's tennis has garnered 33 Pac-12 Player of the Week awards in program history.

Each of Abbey Forbes' 10 singles opponents in 2021 has been slotted in the top 100 of the Oracle ITA singles rankings at the time of the meeting. All of the matches have been completed and Forbes, who is listed at No. 7 in rankings, has a 9-1 record. She is 4-0 against top-20 foes, knocking off No. 1 Ashley Lahey of Pepperdine, No. 5 Anna Turati of Texas and No. 18 Haley Giavara of California on two occasions. All four of those matches, as well as four other Forbes wins, were finished in straight sets. Her only loss of the season came against No. 33 Jessica Failla of Pepperdine, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Stillwater, Okla.

The Bruins remained at No. 5 in the Oracle ITA team rankings, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced Wednesday, March 17. The player rankings, revealed Jan. 13, feature a Pac-12-high five Bruins and the pair of Elysia Bolton and Jada Hart at the No. 1 position among doubles standouts. Joining the top-ranked tandem in the rankings are Abbey Forbes (No. 7 singles), Sasha Vagramov (No. 113 singles) and Vanessa Ong (No. 119 singles, No. 9 newcomers). Bolton (No. 9) and Hart (No. 19) also earned top-20 spots on the singles list. While Ong made her first appearance in the singles rankings, Bolton matched her career-best showing. Bolton and Hart occupy the No. 1 doubles spot for the third time since joining forces during the 2018 fall campaign. The pair holds a record of 50-14 over three seasons, including a 31-9 mark in 2018-19. Bolton/Hart is 3-1 against top-five teams and defeated then-No. 1 Anna Rogers and Alana Smith of NC State, 6-4, 6-3, to claim UCLA's first Oracle ITA National Fall Championships doubles title (Nov. 10, 2019).

In a letter to the UCLA community April 23, 2020, Jada Hart announced she would take advantage of an additional year of eligibility provided by the NCAA after the coronavirus pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season. Hart said, "Knowing I was going to get an extra year to end my UCLA career on my terms was an opportunity I could not pass up ... I'm very blessed to get one more year to wear the blue and gold and be surrounded by an amazing team that I get to call MY FAMILY." Hart holds a career singles record of 87-39 and currently sits in a tie for 14th place on the program's career wins list (since 1991). On the doubles side, she possesses a record of 112-37 and captured the 2019 Oracle ITA Fall National Championships doubles title with partner Elysia Bolton. Hart has a chance to become the ninth four-time All-American in UCLA women's tennis history.

Freshman Vanessa Ong and University of Georgia transfer Vivian Wolff join the Bruins in 2020-21. Hailing from Oklahoma City, Ong was a Blue-Chip prospect who ranked as high as No. 2 in her class, according to Ong earned a berth into the 2016 US Open junior tournament, where she won three singles matches before falling to current WTA No. 8 Bianca Andreescu of Canada on the Grandstand court. Ong reached the quarterfinal rounds of the Eddie Herr Girls' 18 doubles and Orange Bowl Girls' 18 singles draws, respectively, in 2017. She went on to earn trips to the 2018 Easter Bowl Girls' 18 doubles semifinal round and the 2018 USTA International Spring Championships Girls' 18 singles quarters. Ong was a standout performer at the 2018 USTA Billie Jean King National Championships, registering quarterfinal-round showings in the Girls' 18 singles and doubles draws. Wolff, a senior, moves to the West Coast after achieving All-America status with partner Elena Christofi for their performance during the 2019 fall season. Georgia registered a national runner-up finish in 2019 and Wolff proved a major part on the fourth singles court. The then-sophomore went 32-3, including a 24-1 showing in dual matches. Wolff won her final 20 singles decisions on the year and garnered First-Team All-SEC recognition.

A bevy of Bruins is active on the professional circuits, with Jennifer Brady (2014, 2015) and Ena Shibahara (2017, 2018) currently building off breakout 2020 campaigns. Brady climbed to a career-best No. 13 in the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) singles rankings on Feb. 22. That was achieved in large part due to her performances at the 2020 US Open and, most recently, the 2021 Australian Open. The ranking also represents the best-ever showing by a Bruin. Brady advanced to the singles final round at the Australian Open, surpassing her semifinal-round showing at the US Open just months earlier. Brady also captured the first WTA title of her career in the singles draw of the 2020 Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky. Shibahara, meanwhile, has attained much of her success in doubles play. Alongside regular partner Shuko Aoyama, Shibahara claimed the top spots at the Abu Dhabi Open and the Yarra Valley Classic events early this year. The titles marked the fourth and fifth on the WTA Tour for Shibahara/Aoyama. Shibahara reached a career-high No. 15 in the WTA doubles rankings on Feb. 22.

Head coach Stella Sampras Webster is in her 25th season at the helm of the UCLA women's tennis program, compiling an impressive overall record of 461-169 (.732). She is the second-longest-tenured active coach at UCLA, behind men's tennis head coach Billy Martin. Sampras Webster has guided her alma mater to NCAA championships in 2008 and 2014, the first two in program history. Her teams have finished top-10 nationally in 20 of her 23 completed seasons and in the top five 14 times. Three doubles pairs have won NCAA titles under Sampras Webster's tutelage, most recently Gabby Andrews and Ayan Broomfield in 2019.