With UCLA (26-2) leading the match 3-0, junior Kaitlin Ray picked up Monday's clinching victory at court No. 6, as her 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 win over 67th-ranked Kourtney Keegan gave the Bruins the 4-0 victory. It was a career defining moment for Ray, who despite being a junior has not played in an NCAA Tournament due to injury until this year.
“This is the best atmosphere in college tennis," said Ray in the post-match press conference. "I’m really thankful to be out there and healthy. It was a team effort. I’m lucky to have such great teammates that had my back when I didn’t have a good night the other night against Duke. These girls always find a way to pull through, and I’m just excited for these girls. It’s what you get up in the morning for. And we have a chance to play for a national title tomorrow.”
The Bruins started Monday's match like they have done in every contest this season, claiming the doubles point for a 1-0 lead. UCLA took the point with a pair of tiebreakers at court Nos. 1 and 2. Both courts went to tiebreakers at the same time and after ninth-ranked Catherine Harrison and Kyle McPhillips took care of business at court No. 2, top-ranked Robin Anderson and Jennifer Brady followed suit, downing 27th-ranked Alexandra Cercone and Kourtney Keegan, 8-7(5) to lock up the 28th doubles point of the year for the Bruins.
“Winning doubles was a big point in the whole match because we have been used to winning the doubles point and it really came down to a point here or there," said UCLA head coach Stella Sampras Webster. "We were fortunate to win the two tiebreakers and the two doubles. We came out just a little tight in the doubles and once we won that point, our team just came out in singles really aggressive and played some really good tennis. We knew Florida is a great team, but we prepared our team like any other match. I’m just really proud of the way they competed and stayed in the moment.”
UCLA came out on fire in singles play, taking five first sets. Playing at court No. 2, the eighth-ranked Brady played inspired tennis against 14th-ranked Olivia Janowicz, winning 6-1, 6-1 to give UCLA a 2-0 lead. Right next door at court No. 1, Anderson was almost as impressive against 16th-ranked Brianna Morgan, winning 6-1, 6-3. Anderson is currently listed at No. 2 in the ITA Singles Rankings.
UCLA's fourth point would be a little harder to come by, as all four matches were fairly close. Although the Bruins had won first sets on three of the four courts, Florida began mounting second-set comebacks to extend the match. Harrison worked her way to a match point at court No. 5, however her opponent, Belinda Woolcock, saved it and eventually took the second set in a tiebreaker. Playing at court No. 4, Chanelle Van Nguyen was also twice within a game of clinching against Cercone before that set would also go to a tiebreaker.
It soon became apparent that Ray, who had worked her way to a 5-2 lead over Keegan at court No. 6, would be the most likely to clinch. Ray converted her third match point on a missed volley by Keegan, as Bruin players then stormed the court in jubilation.
"We lost to a better team, that’s just reality," said Florida coach Roland Thornqvist. "This UCLA team has a lot of class. They’re good from 1 to 6. They have ball strikers at some spots, and they have grinders that can keep the ball in like that six and other spots. All the credit, obviously, to UCLA. It’s a fantastic team. Today we lost to a better team.”
#3 UCLA 4, #8 Florida 0
May 19, 2014 at Athens, GA (Dan Magill Tennis Complex)
|1. #1 Anderson/Brady (UCLA) def. #27 Cercone/Keegan (UF) 8-7(5)|
|2. #9 Harrison/McPhillips (UCLA) def. Oyen/Woolcock (UF) 8-7(5)|
|3. Courtney Dolehide/Van Nguyen (UCLA) vs. Janowicz/Morgan (UF) 6-6, unfinished|
|1. #2 Robin Anderson (UCLA) def. #16 Brianna Morgan (UF) 6-1, 6-3|
|2. #8 Jennifer Brady (UCLA) def. #14 Olivia Janowicz (UF) 6-1, 6-1|
|3. #38 Kyle McPhillips (UCLA) vs. #70 Sofie Oyen (UF) 6-7 (6-3), 6-4, unfinished|
|4. #13 Chanelle Van Nguyen (UCLA) vs. #28 Alexandra Cercone (UF) 6-2, 6-6, unfinished|
|5. #75 Catherine Harrison (UCLA) vs. #99 Belinda Woolcock (UF) 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 3-1, unfinished|
|6. Kaitlin Ray (UCLA) def. #67 Kourtney Keegan (UF) 6-3, 3-6, 6-2|
|Florida 23-6; National ranking #8|
|UCLA 26-2; National ranking #3|
|Order of finish: Doubles (2,1); Singles (2,1,6)|