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Women's Tennis Hosts ITA Kickoff Weekend, Starting Friday

Jan 27, 2022
Elise Wagle (Photo: Lillie Yazdi)

ITA Kickoff Weekend action returns to Los Angeles Tennis Center Friday and continues through Saturday, with matches set for 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. PT each day. Denver (0-0) and Washington (3-0) meet Friday in the morning contest, while No. 4 UCLA (0-1) is set to take on Cal Poly (1-0) in the afternoon. Day 2 will begin with the consolation matchup and conclude with the championship tilt. Admission to each match is free. For more on UCLA fan attendance COVID-19 policies and procedures, CLICK HERE.

Fans unable to attend home UCLA women's tennis matches in person can still follow live. Live streaming and live scoring will be available for all matches played at Los Angeles Tennis Center HERE.

UCLA suffered its first-ever loss to Loyola Marymount Wednesday afternoon, dropping the first four singles decisions en route to a 4-3 season-opening decision at Los Angeles Tennis Center. The Bruins captured the doubles point with wins across all three courts, but the Lions took five singles first sets and rode those leads to a 4-1 score. Elysia Bolton and Abbey Forbes each tacked on a three-set victory for UCLA after the match was decided.

UCLA possesses an all-time record of 5-0 versus Cal Poly, notching regular-season wins at Los Angeles Tennis Center in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Stella Sampras Webster's 2008 team, which went on to win the program's first NCAA title, blanked Denver in the second round of the national postseason tournament. That represents the only meeting between the programs to date. A meeting with Washington, meanwhile, would represent the 33rd between the Pac-12 foes. The Bruins and Huskies last met March 7, 2021, when Sampras Webster's squad secured a 6-1 win on the road. Washington's last win in the series came during the 2003 campaign.

Bruins made appearances at five events during the fall. Abbey Forbes took part in two national singles tournaments, notching wins against nationally-ranked opponents at the ITA All-American Championships and ITA National Fall Championships. The combination of Vanessa Ong and Elise Wagle posted the standout performance, capturing the doubles title at the ITA Southwest Regional Championships to earn a spot in the year-end national field. Sasha Vagramov led the team with seven singles victories, a total helped in large part by her run to the ITA Southwest Regionals quarterfinal round.

UCLA is tied for fourth in the latest ITA coaches poll, released Jan. 26. Individually, the Dec. 8, 2021 singles list included Sasha Vagramov at No. 49 and Abbey Forbes at No. 68. Vagramov turned in a team-high seven singles wins during the fall, while each of Forbes' two victories came against nationally-ranked opponents. As a team, the Bruins completed the 2020-21 season slotted at No. 5.

2020-21 IN REVIEW
The 2020-21 UCLA women's tennis team collected the first outright Pac-12 title in program history, going 10-0 in regular-season conference tilts. The Bruins outscored their league foes by a 53-6 margin during the regular season. The team went on to reach the NCAA Championships quarterfinal round before it was felled by eventual national runner-up Pepperdine in a 4-3 decision that dropped its final record to 22-5. Abbey Forbes was named the Pac-12 Singles Player of the Year and earned the conference's Doubles Team of the Year award alongside Jada Hart. Forbes, Hart and Elysia Bolton all received ITA All-America recognition.

Defending Pac-12 Singles Player of the Year and two-time ITA All-America selection Abbey Forbes is one of six UCLA returners. She was also part of the conference's Doubles Team of the Year in 2021, alongside Jada Hart. Forbes logged a singles record of 24-3 and a doubles mark of 13-2 as a sophomore. Also back is Elysia Bolton, who is looking to become just the 10th four-time All-American in program history. Bolton went 10-4 in singles matches and 14-5 in doubles play, reaching the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships doubles tournament with Jada Hart in 2021. The senior class is comprised of Bolton and Taylor Johnson, the latter of which won five straight-set singles results against just one loss and teamed with Bolton and Abi Altick on the doubles courts last year. Junior Sasha Vagramov, who went 5-1 in Pac-12 singles matches and 9-5 overall, is also back. Coming off a near-perfect debut, sophomore Vanessa Ong (5-1 singles, 4-0 doubles) is back, and junior Caroline Goldberg rounds out the quartet of second- and third-year Bruins on the roster.

The quartet of Abi Altick, Annette Goulak, Jada Hart and Vivian Wolff is gone from the 2021 Pac-12 regular-season champions. Altick was a consistent presence on the singles (65-26 career record) and doubles (64-20) courts and occupied the third doubles court with Elysia Bolton and Taylor Johnson in 2021. Goulak had a standout final year, posting 18-3 singles and doubles records. Four-time ITA All-America selection Hart won 217 total matches (94-41 singles, 123-40 doubles) during her five seasons at UCLA and was named half of the 2021 Pac-12 Doubles Team of the Year with frequent partner Abbey Forbes. Wolff played exclusively with Goulak on the second doubles court and went 11-7 in singles matches during her only season with the Bruins, playing primarily on Court 4.

The trio of Ava Catanzarite, Kimmi Hance and Elise Wagle is new to the UCLA roster. Each student-athlete was a Blue Chip prospect coming out of high school, according to Catanzarite, from Pittsburgh, Pa., won Girls' 16 doubles Gold Balls at the 2019 Easter Bowl in Indian Wells, Calif. and the 2018 National Winter Championships in Orlando, Fla. Torrance, Calif. native Hance captured the Girls' 18 doubles championship with partner Reese Brantmeier at the ITF JA Plantation (Orange Bowl) event in 2020. Wagle, out of Niskayuna, N.Y., took home the Girls' 16 doubles titles at the 2019 USTA Billie Jean King National Championships (with partner Katja Wiersholm) in San Diego, the 2018 Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships (with partner Carson Tanguilig) in Plantation, Fla. and the 2018 USTA Girls' 16 National Clay Court Championships (with partner Valenica Xu) in Memphis, Tenn.

Head coach Stella Sampras Webster is in her 26th season at the helm of the UCLA women's tennis program, compiling an impressive overall record of 475-172 (.734). 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 21 of her 24 completed seasons and in the top five 15 times. Three doubles pairs have won NCAA titles under Sampras Webster's tutelage, most recently Gabby Andrews and Ayan Broomfield in 2019.