Jan. 11, 2005
Bruins look to build on strong 2004
Fresh off a second-place showing at last year's NCAA Championships, the UCLA women's tennis team is no doubt looking to continue the momentum generated from last year's outstanding postseason run. The 2005 squad features several key players who helped UCLA reach its first final since 1991, including singles and doubles All-American Daniela Bercek. In addition, the Bruins will be bolstered by one of the top recruiting classes in the nation, showcasing three nationally ranked juniors eager to make their mark on the collegiate level.
Bruins in the Ita Rankings
The Preseason ITA Team Rankings feature UCLA at No. 4, right behind top-ranked Stanford, No. 2 Florida and No. 3 Clemson. Northwestern rounds out the top-5 at No. 5. On an individual level, freshman Riza Zalameda is the highest ranked singles player, checking in at No. 9. Bercek is ranked No. 20, followed by No. 122 Alex McGoodwin and No. 125 Elizabeth Lumpkin. In doubles, Bercek and Zalameda are ranked No. 5 nationally.
Sampras Webster Enters 13th Season in Westwood
Stella Sampras Webster is entering her ninth season as head coach of the Bruins and 13th season as a member of the coaching staff. Sampras Webster owns a 133-77 (.633) overall record at UCLA, leading the Bruins to top-10 showings at the NCAA Championships in seven of her eight seasons. A four-time All-American at UCLA from 1988-91, Sampras Webster served as assistant coach from 1993-96 before being elevated to head coach following the retirement of Bill Zaima.
The Singles Lineup
Coming off a season in which she earned All-America honors in both singles and doubles, Bercek enters 2005 as UCLA's top returning singles player. She owned a 25-6 overall record a year ago, including a 20-3 mark in dual-match play. Bercek, who was named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 2004, defeated four top-10 players last season, including two during the NCAA Team Championships. Likely to assume the No. 2 singles position is Zalameda, who turned in an outstanding showing during the fall, going 10-3 overall. She won the Wilson/ITA West Regionals in October, earning a spot in the ITA National Indoor Championships. After Bercek and Zalameda, the singles lineup is fairly open with a number of players vying for the Nos. 3-8 spots. The leading candidate for the No. 3 position due to her experience is Sarah Gregg. The senior from England won a career best 22 matches in 2004, but is coming off a wrist injury suffered at the end of the fall season. She saw most of her time at the No. 4 position last year, going 18-7 in dual-match play. Another player coming off an injury who could see a lot of time at the Nos. 3 and 4 positions is McGoodwin. She played in six dual matches last year (going 3-3) before suffering an injury. She was granted a medical redshirt after sitting out the last three months of the season. Junior Laura Gordon will provide the experience in the bottom-half of the lineup after competing in the Nos. 4-6 spots during her first two seasons in Westwood. She ranked second on the team to Bercek in singles wins a year ago, registering a career-high 23. The final three players, all of whom could play as high as No. 3 in the lineup, are Anya Loncaric, Tracy Lin and Lumpkin. Loncaric is a senior from Canada who has played sparingly during her career due to injury. She played 23 dual matches in 2003 and owns a career record of 20-24. Both Lumpkin and Lin are two freshmen who were highly-ranked junior players. Lumpkin is the first player ever to win four state singles titles in Illinois. Lin, a CIF Singles Champion from Anaheim, was one of the top players in Southern California. Providing depth in the bottom-half of the Bruin lineup is sophomore Amber Ray.
The Doubles Lineup
With a number of available options, UCLA should feature a solid doubles lineup once again in 2005. One tandem that will likely see a lot of time together is Bercek and Zalameda, as both are coming off national titles in their respective events. Bercek teamed with Lauren Fisher to claim last year's NCAA Doubles Championship, the fifth in school history. Zalameda arrives at UCLA as arguably the top junior doubles player in the nation after having captured the last two National Hardcourt Girls' 18s titles. She has played doubles in the main draw of the U.S. Open the last two years. UCLA's No. 2 doubles team will likely be Gordon and Lumpkin to start the year. The duo went 6-3 in the fall, advancing to the finals at the Fall Desert Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs, Calif. Four players who could all see time at No. 3 doubles are Gregg, Lin, McGoodwin and Loncaric. Having already played together in the fall, Gregg and Lin are the likely pairing at this position, however things could change as the season progresses.
The 2005 Schedule
Being in the Pac-10, UCLA plays one of the most competitive schedules in the country and 2005 is no different. Five preseason top-20 teams loom on UCLA's schedule, including conference foes top-ranked Stanford and No. 7 USC. In addition to those two, the Bruins will face No. 10 Washington, No. 11 Texas and No. 15 Cal during the regular season. UCLA is sure to run into several more highly-ranked teams at the USTA/ITA National Team Indoors in early February. The Bruins are scheduled to play in three individual tournaments in the spring, including the Pac-10 Indoors, the Las Vegas Classic and the year-end Pac-10 Championships in Ojai, Calif.