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Women's Tennis Comeback Stopped Short at USC

Apr 15, 2022
Elysia Bolton (Photo: Eric Hurd)

LOS ANGELES – The No. 15 UCLA women's tennis team mounted a furious comeback against No. 19 USC, but was ultimately outlasted by a 4-3 score Friday at David X. Marks Tennis Stadium.

The loss marked the first in conference play for the Bruins (11-5, 7-1 Pac-12) since April 12, 2019 at Washington State. The Trojans (17-10, 7-3) raced out to a 3-0 lead, only to have UCLA bounce back to pull even. Salma Ewing clinched the victory on the top court. Elysia Bolton, Kimmi Hance and Vanessa Ong were each triumphant on the singles courts for the Bruins. Trailing by a 2-6, 1-5 margin, Bolton recovered to win in three sets.

Each of the three doubles matches was closely contested, with a tiebreaker needed on two courts. USC struck first on Court 2, where Naomi Cheong and Grace Piper put a stop to three straight breaks of serve at 5-4 for the win against No. 56 Ava Catanzarite and Abbey Forbes.

On Court 3, in a match filled with breaks, Kimmi Hance and Sasha Vagramov held serve at 5-6 to force a tiebreaker. There, Snow Han and Danielle Willson got out to a 6-3 lead before the Bruins made their move. Hance and Vagramov seized the final five points for a 7-6(6) victory.

Eryn Cayetano and Salma Ewing of USC recovered from a 3-5 deficit to force a tiebreaker with No. 49 Elysia Bolton and Elise Wagle on Court 1. Bolton and Wagle subsequently raced out to a 6-2 advantage before Cayetano and Ewing mounted a comeback of their own. Bolton and Wagle eventually took a 7-6 lead, but the Trojans grabbed the final three points for a 7-6(7) victory to take the opening point.

USC rode the opening point to five singles first sets in its favor. No. 73 Cheong recorded a 6-1, 6-3 win versus Wagle on Court 5 and No. 98 Han followed with a 6-3, 6-0 effort against Vagramov on Court 3 to put the Trojans one point away from the overall victory.

The tide began turning on Court 4 with No. 120 Hance, who reversed her match with Piper after getting blanked in the opening set. Now a winner of nine dual-match singles results in a row, Hance got UCLA on the board with a 0-6, 6-4, 6-1 decision.

Ong, who collected the lone first set for the Bruins, finished off Willson in a 7-6(2), 7-5 nail-biter on Court 6 to make it 3-2. Ong has now won five of her last six singles decisions and she is 7-3 overall.

No. 6 Cayetano was one game away from victory on Court 2, but No. 82 Bolton took 12 of the next 15 games to pull UCLA even. The 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 win represented Bolton's first since November 2018, when she bested No. 3 Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami (Fla.).

With all eyes on Court 1, No. 42 Ewing seized the final three games from No. 28 Forbes to secure the deciding 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 win.

Postseason play is up next for the Bruins, who head to Ojai, Calif. for the Pac-12 Championships, which are scheduled to run from Wednesday, April 20 through Saturday, April 23.

Tennis Match Results
4/15/2022 at Los Angeles, CA
(David X. Marks Tennis Stadium)

#19 USC 4, #15 UCLA 3

Singles competition
1. #42 Salma Ewing (USC) def. #28 Abbey Forbes (UCLA) 6-4, 2-6, 6-3
2. #82 Elysia Bolton (UCLA) def. #6 Eryn Cayetano (USC) 2-6, 7-5, 6-3
3. #98 Snow Han (USC) def. Sasha Vagramov (UCLA) 6-3, 6-0
4. #120 Kimmi Hance (UCLA) def. Grace Piper (USC) 0-6, 6-4, 6-1
5. #73 Naomi Cheong (USC) def. Elise Wagle (UCLA) 6-1, 6-3
6. Vanessa Ong (UCLA) def. Danielle Willson (USC) 7-6 (7-2), 7-5

Doubles competition
1. Eryn Cayetano/Salma Ewing (USC) def. #49 Elysia Bolton/Elise Wagle (UCLA) 7-6 (9-7)
2. Naomi Cheong/Grace Piper (USC) def. #56 Ava Catanzarite/Abbey Forbes (UCLA) 6-4
3. Kimmi Hance/Sasha Vagramov (UCLA) def. Snow Han/Danielle Willson (USC) 7-6 (8-6)

Match Notes:
UCLA 11-5; National ranking #15
USC 17-10; National ranking #19
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (5,3,4,6,2,1)