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Women's Tennis Heads to Ojai for Pac-12 Championships

Apr 20, 2022
Abbey Forbes (Photo: Scott Chandler)

The second-seeded UCLA women's tennis team (11-5, 7-1 Pac-12) will open Pac-12 Championships play Thursday at 3 p.m. PT, when it meets 10th-seeded Washington State (8-14, 2-8) at the Ojai Valley Athletic Club in Ojai, Calif. The event marks a return to the historic site, which is in its 120th year hosting the Ojai Tennis Tournament. The 2020 Pac-12 Championships were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while the 2021 installment was relocated to Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego.

Wednesday, April 20

Match 1: #9 Utah 4, #8 Arizona 1
Match 2: #10 Washington State 4, #7 Washington 2
Match 3: #6 Oregon vs. #11 Colorado 3 p.m.

Thursday, April 21
Match 4: #4 USC vs. #5 Arizona State 9 a.m.
Match 5: #1 California vs. #9 Utah 12 p.m.
Match 6: #2 UCLA vs. #10 Washington State 3 p.m.
Match 7: #3 Stanford vs. Winner Match 3 6 p.m.

Friday, April 22
Match 8: Winner Match 4 vs. Winner Match 5 12 p.m.
Match 9: Winner Match 6 vs. Winner Match 7 3 p.m.

Saturday, April 23
Match 10: Winner Match 8 vs. Winner Match 9 12 p.m.

Tickets for the 2022 Pac-12 Championships at The Ojai are available HERE. Valid proof of full vaccination is required. More information regarding health and safety protocols can be found HERE.

Live results for all matches at the Pac-12 Championships will be accessible HERE. Pac-12 Networks will televise Saturday's championship match.

Then-No. 15 UCLA mounted a furious comeback against then-No. 19 USC, but was ultimately outlasted by a 4-3 score April 15 at David X. Marks Tennis Stadium. The loss marked the first in conference play for the Bruins since April 12, 2019 at Washington State. The Trojans raced out to a 3-0 lead, only to have UCLA bounce back and 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.

UCLA is in search of its first title at the Pac-12 Championships since the team format was adopted in 2017. The Bruins were finalists in 2018, 2019 and 2021. The 2020 event was not held due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, top-seeded UCLA was outlasted by third-seeded California for a 4-2 result in a rain-delayed final-round match at Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego. The Bruins collected the doubles point, only to have the Golden Bears prevail on four of the five completed singles courts. 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 victory for UCLA.

UCLA is No. 16 in the most recent ITA team rankings, released Wednesday. The team is tied for 19th in the latest Tennis Channel/USTA College Tennis Top 25, also unveiled Wednesday. Wednesday also saw six Bruins slotted into the ITA individual rankings. Abbey Forbes leads the way on the singles list, at No. 27. Elysia Bolton is No. 53. The doubles combination of Bolton and Elise Wagle found itself at No. 49, while Forbes and Ava Catanzarite are ranked together at No. 60. As a team, the Bruins completed the 2020-21 season ranked No. 5 by the ITA.

When freshmen Ava Catanzarite, Kimmi Hance and Elise Wagle registered singles wins in UCLA's 6-1 home win versus California Feb. 21, it represented the first time since April 14, 2012 that three first-year Bruins triumphed individually in a dual match. In that 2012 contest, a 5-2 UCLA victory against Stanford at Los Angeles Tennis Center, four freshmen – Robin Anderson, Skylar Morton, Kaitlin Ray and Chanelle Van Nguyen – were all victorious.

In its 6-1 non-conference win against visiting California Feb. 21 at Los Angeles Tennis Center, UCLA responded emphatically to losing the doubles point. The Bruins claimed each singles first set and ultimately five straight-set victories. Elise Wagle, who overcame a 1-5 first-set deficit, was forced into a 10-point tiebreaker, which she won to complete the sweep. The Golden Bears were ranked No. 7 at the time of the match. The last time UCLA was victorious in such a fashion was April 18, 2007, when the Bruins bounced back versus Pepperdine at LATC.

Kimmi Hance was tabbed ITA x Universal Tennis Player of the Week for Division I after seeing her Universal Tennis Rating climb 0.10 with wins against Oregon and Pepperdine. The freshman beat No. 86 Savannah Broadus of the Waves by a 6-3, 7-5 score, capping a perfect individual day that also saw Hance team with Sasha Vagramov for a 7-6(0) victory versus Victoria Flores and Nikki Redelijk (April 6). Two days later, Hance/Vagramov triumphed over Ares Teixido Garcia and Karin Young of the Ducks, clinching the doubles point with a 6-3 result.

Abbey Forbes was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for Feb. 21-27, the conference announced Tuesday. She was a key contributor to the Bruins' home sweep of No. 7 California (Feb. 21) and No. 12 USC (Feb. 25), which were handed 6-1 and 4-1 losses, respectively. Forbes and UCLA bounced back from losing the doubles point in the opener, as the junior kick started a singles sweep with her 6-1, 6-1 defeat of the Golden Bears' Haley Giavara on Court 1. Against their crosstown rivals, Forbes had a hand in securing the first and last points for the Bruins. The 30th-ranked combination of Forbes and Ava Catanzarite recorded a 6-2 win against No. 19 Salma Ewing and Snow Han on Court 2 to give UCLA a lead it would not relinquish. Then, with her team leading by a 3-1 score, Forbes sealed the victory with a 6-4, 7-5 triumph over the fifth-ranked Eryn Cayetano.

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.

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 486-176 (.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.