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Fourth-Seeded Women's Tennis Set to Start NCAA Play

May 6, 2021
Abbey Forbes (Photo: Scott Chandler)

Friday, May 7/10:00 AM PT
    Saturday, May 8/1:00 PM PT*
Live Stream/Live Stats:
Series vs. Grand Canyon: First meeting
Series vs. San Diego: 18-0
Series vs. Texas Tech: 0-1
Record in NCAA Play: 90-36
* - if necessary

The fourth-seeded UCLA women's tennis team is set to host NCAA Championships action at Los Angeles Tennis Center, with matches set to begin Friday. The Bruins (19-4), who received one of 34 at-large bids, meet WAC regular-season and tournament champion Grand Canyon (12-8) at 10 a.m., PT. Texas Tech (15-8) and San Diego (15-4), which earned at-large berths out of the Big 12 and WCC, respectively, square off in the other first-round match at 1 p.m. Winners meet Saturday at 1 p.m. for a trip to Orlando, Fla.

In compliance with state and county public health guidance, the NCAA Championships first- and second-round matches at Los Angeles Tennis Center are open to a limited number of team guests only. Tickets are not available to the general public, and non-ticketed guests should not come to LATC. The UCLA campus remains closed to the general public. Live streaming and live scoring for all matches will be available HERE.

UCLA women's tennis is one of two programs (Stanford) to qualify for the NCAA Championships each year since the tournament format was adopted, stretching the run to 39 seasons with its latest selection. Head coach Stella Sampras Webster's teams claimed each of the program's NCAA titles during that time, taking the top spots in 2008 and 2014. This year's No. 4 seed is a first for UCLA. The Bruins will try to improve upon a 90-36 all-time record in NCAA play. They will start with Grand Canyon. The programs have never met in postseason or regular-season action.

Bruins Elysia Bolton, Abbey Forbes and Jada Hart were among those selected to the 2021 NCAA Championships individual draws, the NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Subcommittee announced Tuesday. The singles and doubles tournaments will take place May 23-28 at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida, upon completion of the team championship, which is set for May 16-22. Forbes earned a spot in the singles bracket for the first time as one of 13 automatic qualifiers. She is seeded No. 7. The NCAA selection criteria was applied to Pac-12 players slotted in the top 125 of the ITA singles rankings and the sophomore was named the conference's representative. Hart, who captured her final seven decisions, received a singles bid for the third time. She reached the quarterfinal round of the 2019 tournament. Bolton and Hart are set to make their second doubles appearance after previously advancing to the second round in 2019. They also picked up the conference's automatic qualification.

Top-seeded UCLA advanced to the final round of the Pac-12's annual conference tournament for the third time in a row, but was outlasted by No. 3 seed California, 4-2, at Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego. The Bruins collected the doubles point, only to have the Golden Bears prevail in four of the five completed singles matches. Julia Rosenqvist clinched the tournament title for Cal, which knocked off four-time defending champion Stanford in the semifinals. Vivian Wolff turned in the lone singles win for UCLA. The Bruins defeated Washington State and Arizona State in order to reach the championship contest.

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 regular-season play, outscoring opponents by a margin of 56 points (69-13). This year alone, UCLA has a 53-6 advantage in regular-season conference play. The Bruins are 44-5 in Pac-12 regular-season 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.

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.

Fourteen of Abbey Forbes' 19 singles opponents in her completed 2021 matches have been slotted in the top 100 of the Oracle ITA singles rankings when the meetings occurred. Fifteen have been nationally ranked. Forbes, who is listed at No. 7 in the rankings, is 12-2 against top-100 opponents and 18-2 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 12 other Forbes wins, were finished in straight sets.

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 119-38 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.

The UCLA women's tennis team is No. 4 in the latest Oracle ITA computerized rankings and Tennis Channel/USTA Top 25, 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. 7. Hart checks in at No. 50, matching 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. 59. The pair has appeared in six of seven installments of the rankings.

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 is in her 25th season at the helm of the UCLA women's tennis program, compiling an impressive overall record of 474-170 (.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.