May 23, 2004
Athens, Ga. - The ninth-seeded UCLA women's tennis team came within one match of capturing its first NCAA title Sunday, falling to second-seeded and undefeated Stanford, 4-1 in the NCAA Final at the University of Georgia's Dan Magill Tennis Complex. With the loss, the Bruins finish their season with a 21-8 overall record. Stanford, which is seeded No. 2 and ranked No. 1 nationally, improves to 29-0.
Sunday's title match was much closer than the final score indicated, as both teams began the day in a tight battle for the doubles point. The Cardinal came out and quickly posted an 8-3 win at court No. 2, however the Bruins owned leads on the other two courts. The Top-ranked Stanford duo of Lauren Barnikow and Erin Burdette clinched the point for the Cardinal at court No. 1, posting an 8-6 victory over 23rd-ranked Daniela Bercek and Lauren Fisher. When play was suspended, UCLA's Laura Gordon and Sarah Gregg were up 7-4 at court No. 3.
Already owning a 1-0 advantage following doubles play, the Cardinal would post two-consecutive victories to take a 3-0 advantage in the match. First to finish was court No. 2, where 10th-ranked Alice Barnes posted a 6-2, 6-1 decision over 18th-ranked Jackie Carleton. Following that on court No. 5, 40th-ranked Theresa Logar was a 6-4, 6-3 winner over Fisher.
It was at this point that UCLA began to rally. The Bruins got on the board when Gregg dispatched of the 56th-ranked Barnikow, 6-3, 6-3, cutting the lead to 3-1. Over on court No. 1, Bercek was up 5-1 in the third set against seventh-ranked Amber Liu and Gordon was heading into a third set with 60th-ranked Emilia Anderson. However before those two matches to finish, UCLA's Feriel Esseghir was beaten by Burdette, 7-6, 6-3, clinching the national championship for Stanford.
UCLA, which has never won an NCAA title in women's tennis, had advanced to the final on three previous occasions (1982, 1989 and 1991). The Bruins won the national championship in 1981, however that was one year prior to the NCAA becoming the governing body of women's tennis.
Sunday's NCAA Final will air on ESPN2, May 25 at Noon (PST).
UCLA coach Stella Sampras Webster
"It was a great tournament for us. Stanford played well and had a great season. They were the better team today. If we had won the doubles point it could have been a different match, but we didn't."
(on the dominance of Stanford)
"The difference with Stanford is that they don't beat themselves. They make every player play, and they don't make a lot of unforced errors."
UCLA #1 doubles, #1 singles Daniela Bercek
(on the timing of her match and the clinching third-court match) "I had two match points. I was trying to focus on my match. I was cheering for Feriel (Esseghir - #3 singles) and trying to focus on my match."
UCLA #2 doubles, #3 singles Feriel Esseghir
"When I was in the second set, down a few match points, I just had to keep fighting long enough to give (Bercek) a chance to win her match and then try to stay in mine. We fought all the way."
(on the progression of her match)
"I never gave up. In tennis, when there's a shift in momentum, anything can happen."
|1.||(1) Barnikow/Burdette (Stan) def. (23) Bercek/Fisher (UCLA)||8-6|
|2.||Barnes/Liu (Stan) def. (43) Carleton/Esseghir (UCLA)||8-3|
|3.||(56) Anderson/Anne Yelsey (Stan) vs. Gordon/Gregg (UCLA)||Susp.|
|Stanford Wins Doubles Point|
|1.||(7) Amber Liu (Stan) vs. (31) Daniela Bercek (UCLA)||Susp.|
|2.||(10) Alice Barnes (Stan) def. (18) Jackie Carleton (UCLA)||6-2, 6-1|
|3.||(23) Erin Burdette (Stan) def. Feriel Esseghir (UCLA)||7-6, 6-3*|
|4.||Sarah Gregg (UCLA) def. (56) Lauren Barnikow (Stan)||6-3, 6-3|
|5.||(40) Theresa Logar (Stan) def. Lauren Fisher (UCLA)||6-4, 6-3|
|6.||(60) Emilia Anderson (Stan) vs. Laura Gordon (UCLA)||Susp.|
|* Denotes Clinching Match - Singles Order of Finish: 2,5,4,3|