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Top-Seeded Women's Tennis Prepares for Pac-12 Championships

Apr 23, 2021
Jada Hart (left) and Abbey Forbes (Photo: Scott Chandler)

MATCH INFORMATION
Date/Time:
Saturday, April 24/9:00 AM PT
    Sunday, April 25/12:00 PM PT*
    Monday, April 26/12:00 PM PT*
Television (Monday): Pac-12 Network
Talent (Monday): J.B. Long (play-by-play)
    Corina Morariu (analyst)
Live Scoring: pac12.me/TENLiveScores
* - if necessary

2021 PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIPS
Friday, April 23
Match 1: #6 Oregon 4, #11 Utah 0
Match 2: #7 Washington 4, #10 Arizona 1
Match 3: #8 Washington State 4, #9 Colorado 0

Saturday, April 24
Match 4: #1 UCLA vs. #8 Washington State 9:00 AM
Match 5: #4 Arizona State vs. #5 USC 9:00 AM
Match 6: #2 Stanford vs. #7 Washington 12:00 PM
Match 7: #3 California vs. #6 Oregon 12:00 PM

Sunday, April 25
Match 8: Winner Match 4 vs. Winner Match 5 12:00 PM
Match 9: Winner Match 6 vs. Winner Match 7 12:00 PM

Monday, April 26
Match 10: Winner Match 8 vs. Winner Match 9 12:00 PM

THIS WEEK
The top-seeded UCLA women's tennis team, champion of the Pac-12's regular season, begins play at the annual conference tournament Saturday at Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego. The Bruins debut in the quarterfinals against No. 8 seed Washington State, which registered a sweep of Colorado in first-round action Friday. First serve from the first bank of courts is set for 9 a.m., PT. Play continues through Monday, when a tournament champion is crowned on Pac-12 Network. This year's Pac-12 Championships were relocated from the Ojai (Calif.) Valley Tennis Club, which was unable to host the event due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

FOLLOW LIVE
Pac-12 Network is set to air Monday's final round of the Pac-12 Championships, beginning at 12 p.m., PT, with J.B. Long and Corina Morariu on the call. Additional coverage will be available on Pac-12.com and the Pac-12 Now app. Live scoring is available at pac12.me/TENLiveScores.

UCLA AT THE PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Bruins are attempting to break through and seize their program's first Pac-12 tournament championship since the team format was adopted in 2017. UCLA was a finalist in 2018 and 2019, ultimately suffering a 4-2 loss to Stanford each time. The tournament was not played in 2020. The 2019 meeting saw the second-seeded Bruins earn the doubles point for an early lead before being overcome on the singles courts. Emily Arbuthnott clinched the overall win in three sets, with Michaela Gordon, Caroline Lampl and Melissa Lord also proving triumphant for the No. 1 seed Cardinal. It was a big day for UCLA's Gabby Andrews in a losing effort, as she was victorious in her singles match after securing the doubles point alongside Ayan Broomfield.

PAC-12 CHAMPIONS
With its April 10 win over California, the UCLA women's tennis team clinched the first outright Pac-12 regular-season championship in program history. The 2008 Bruins shared the conference title with Stanford. Since April 14, 2019, head coach Stella Sampras Webster's teams have gone 14-0 in Pac-12 play, outscoring opponents by a margin of 56 points (69-13). This year alone, UCLA has a 53-6 advantage in conference play. The Bruins are 44-5 in Pac-12 singles matches this season, with Abbey Forbes (9-0), Jada Hart (7-0), Annette Goulak (6-0), Elysia Bolton (3-0) and Vanessa Ong (3-0) all possessing unblemished records.

LAST TIME OUT
UCLA put a bow on its undefeated Pac-12 regular season, dispatching of USC by a 4-0 score April 16 at Los Angeles Tennis Center. The Bruins honored their seniors prior to the match and proceeded to tally wins on across the doubles courts. Abbey Forbes clinched the victory, following Elysia Bolton and Sasha Vagramov in posting winning singles efforts. The Trojans suffered their first shutout loss of the season.

FORBES, BRUINS EARN CONFERENCE ACCLAIM
One season removed from collecting five of eight Pac-12 Player of the Week awards, UCLA student-athletes accounted for nearly half the honors in 2021. Most recently, Abbey Forbes earned her third of the campaign — and second in as many weeks — after collecting two singles wins and prevailing in her only finished doubles match as the Bruins completed their regular season with home victories over Pepperdine and USC. Forbes has four career weekly honors from the conference. Elysia Bolton received her third to start the year. Jada Hart brought in the sixth of her career one week later. The five awards were tops in the league, with no other program receiving more than two. UCLA women's tennis has garnered 35 Pac-12 Player of the Week plaudits in program history.

MORE ON FORBES
Thirteen of Abbey Forbes' 18 singles opponents in 2021 have been slotted in the top 100 of the Oracle ITA singles rankings when the meetings occurred. Fourteen have been nationally ranked. Forbes, who is listed at No. 8 in the rankings, is 12-1 against top-100 opponents and 17-1 overall. She is 4-0 against top-20 foes, knocking off then-No. 1 Ashley Lahey of Pepperdine, then-No. 5 Anna Turati of Texas and then-No. 18 Haley Giavara of California on two occasions. All four of those matches, as well as 11 other Forbes wins, were finished in straight sets. Her only loss of the season came against then-No. 33 Jessica Failla of Pepperdine, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Stillwater, Okla.

SHE'S NOT. DONE. YET!
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." On March 19, she earned career win No. 200 alongside doubles partner Abbey Forbes. Hart holds a career singles record of 94-39 and currently sits in 11th place on the program's career wins list (since 1991). On the doubles side, she possesses a record of 117-38 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.

IN THE RANKINGS
The UCLA women's tennis team is ranked in the top five of the latest Oracle ITA computerized rankings (No. 5), Oracle ITA coaches poll (4) and Tennis Channel/USTA Top 25 (4), it was announced Wednesday. The newest Oracle ITA player rankings, also released Wednesday, include Bruins Elysia Bolton, Abbey Forbes and Jada Hart. Forbes, who has been slotted in the top 11 of the singles rankings since the season began, is No. 8. Hart checks in at No. 50, her highest showing since being No. 19 on the initial list. Bolton and Hart, who started the campaign as the No. 1 doubles combination, are No. 72. The pair has appeared in four of five installments of the rankings.

BRUINS IN THE PROS
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 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. Shibahara and partner Shuko Aoyama won the biggest title of their careers at the Miami Open earlier this month. The duo has also claimed the top spots at the Abu Dhabi Open and the Yarra Valley Classic events in 2021. Shibahara/Aoyama has now won six titles on the WTA Tour. Shibahara currently sits at a career-high No. 13 in the WTA doubles rankings.

HEAD COACH STELLA SAMPRAS WEBSTER
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 470-169 (.736). 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.