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Women's Tennis Continues NCAA Journey in Orlando

May 13, 2021
Annette Goulak (Photo: Scott Chandler)

Sunday, May 16/1:00 PM PT
    Wednesday, May 19/TBA*
    Friday, May 21/TBA*
    Saturday, May 22/TBA*
Television (Wednesday-Saturday): Tennis Channel
Live Stream: TennisONE app
Live Stats: Tennis-Ticker
Television Talent: Sam Gore (play-by-play)
    Katrina Adams (analyst)
Series vs. Georgia Tech: GT leads, 4-3
Last Meeting vs. GT: GT won 4-3 on May 19, 2018
Record in NCAA Play: 92-36
* - if necessary

The NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Championships return to the USTA National Campus in the Lake Nona community of Orlando, Fla. Sunday, following a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fourth-seeded UCLA women's tennis team meets No. 13 seed Georgia Tech at 1 p.m., PT for a rematch of a 2018 clash that took place in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA tournament at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Yellow Jackets came out on top of of a 4-3 decision in that contest, which was stopped by multiple rain delays and eventually moved and completed indoors. The winner of Sunday's match will take on fifth-seeded Pepperdine or Michigan in the May 19 quarterfinals.

NCAA Tournament Appearances: 39th
Overall Won-Lost Record: 92-36
Appearances as No. 4 Seed: First
Round of 16 Appearances (Last): 36 (2021)
Quarterfinal Round Appearances (Last): 25 (2019)
Semifinal Round Appearances (Last): 15 (2015)
Final Round Appearances (Last): 9 (2015)
NCAA Championships: 2 (2008, 2014)

Live video from the NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Championships will be available throughout the remainder of the team competition on Tennis Channel and the TennisONE app. Tennis Channel is set to air the evening matches of the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, as well as the final. All other action, including the round of 16, will be streamed on the TennisONE app. Live stats will also be accessible through Tennis-Ticker.

The Bruins got the team portion of their NCAA journey underway with 4-0 wins over Grand Canyon and Texas Tech at Los Angeles Tennis Center. UCLA's back-court trio was the story of the first round, as Annette Goulak, Taylor Johnson and Vanessa Ong dropped three total games across the completed matches with GCU. Goulak supplied the clinching point. Doubles play also saw the Bruins surrender just three total games in the two finished contests. Abbey Forbes clinched the second-round victory over the Lady Raiders and Goulak and Vivian Wolff also turned in singles wins for UCLA, which dropped just one game in collecting the doubles point.

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 May 4. 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 has captured her last 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.

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 had a 53-6 advantage in regular-season conference play. The Bruins went 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 posting 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' 21 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 19-2 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 13 other Forbes wins, have been 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 121-38 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 May 5. The newest Oracle ITA player rankings, also released May 5, 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.