May 15, 2009
College Station, Texas - The No. 11 UCLA women's tennis team saw its dream of a repeat national championship come to an end on Friday, as the Bruins dropped a 4-2 decision to No. 6 Miami in an NCAA Round of 16 match at Texas A&M's George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. With the loss, UCLA ends its season with a 19-7 overall record, while Miami (26-4) moves on to face No. 3 Duke in Sunday's quarterfinals.
"Going into the match we were prepared for battle and that's what it was today," said UCLA head coach Stella Sampras Webster. "I thought we did a great job coming out and winning that doubles point. I think Miami came out really strong in singles. We got down early in a lot of those first sets. We had some chances in those second sets in some of the matches. If we were able to get some of those we might have been able to turn it around. It's just really frustrating because we had opportunities but we just didn't convert them. Miami is a tough team."
The Bruins looked solid at the start of the match, cruising out to a pair of comfortable leads at court Nos. 1 and 3 in doubles. After Ashley Joelson and Nina Pantic posted an 8-3 victory at the No. 3 spot, Miami answered back with an 8-3 win of its own at court No. 2. UCLA didn't panic, however, as the Bruins still enjoyed a 7-3 lead at court No. 1. After Miami held for 7-4, Andrea Remynse served out the match, winning it when Miami's Michaela Kissell was overruled for calling Remynse's serve out on match point.
Unfortunately for UCLA, the Hurricanes didn't let the setback in doubles bother them, as they quickly won four of six first sets. Laura Vallverdu was first off at court No. 2, as she notched a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Remynse to tie the match at one apiece. Miami then won the next two matches within five minutes of each other, taking a 3-1 lead following wins by Kissell (court No. 4) and Gabriela Mejia (court No. 5).
Just when it looked like UCLA wouldn't be able to mount a comeback, Yasmin Schnack gave the Bruins a glimmer of hope, as she upset third-ranked Julia Cohen, 6-1, 6-4 at court No. 1. It marked Schnack's team-leading 15th victory over a ranked opponent this season. It also ties her highest ranked win on the year, as she also defeated No. 3 Kelcy McKenna of Arizona State back on March 12.
Two matches were still being contested at the time of Schnack's win and UCLA needed both to pull out the victory. Sophomore Maya Johansson was down a set but looking to extend it to a third at court No. 3, and freshman Carling Seguso was on serve early in the third set at court No. 6. Johansson's opponent, Bianca Eichkorn, had a two break lead in the second set and served for the match up 5-2. Johansson managed to get one break back but failed to hold her own serve in the very next game, dropping the match when her backhand sailed long on match point.
"Against UCLA if you can get the doubles point it's icing," said Miami head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews, a Bruin player from 1992-96. "UCLA is well coached. Those girls are not going to quit. Although we got off to a fast start (in singles), we've seen matches turn around. I was glad that our girls continued playing solid throughout the match. UCLA is a solid team. It says a lot about our girls that they were able to stay poised in such a big situation.
Friday's loss marks the Bruins' earliest tournament exit since 2006. UCLA captured the program's first NCAA title in 2008 and reached the finals in 2007.
Although this concludes the team portion of the tournament for UCLA, the Bruins still have two players looking for individual titles next week in College Station. Remynse and Schnack are both in the singles draw and are also pairing together in the doubles tournament.
For more information about the 2009 NCAA Tennis Championships, visit http://www.aggieathletics.com/ncaa2009/tennis/index.html
1. (3) Remynse/Schnack (UCLA) def. (19) Kissell/Vallverdu (UM), 8-4
2. (51) Cohen/Eichkorn (UM) def. (66) Seguso/Stephanie Wetmore (UCLA), 8-3
3. Joelson/Pantic (UCLA) def. Mejia/Wasilewski (UM), 8-3
UCLA Wins Doubles Point - Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1
1. (15) Yasmin Schnack (UCLA) def. (3) Julia Cohen (UM), 6-1, 6-4
2. (24) Laura Vallverdu (UM) def. (57) Andrea Remynse (UCLA), 6-1, 6-1
3. (31) Bianca Eichkorn (UM) def. (114) Maya Johansson (UCLA), 7-5, 6-3*
4. (49) Michaela Kissell (UM) def. Nina Pantic (UCLA), 6-2, 6-4
5. Gabriela Mejia (UM) def. Ashley Joelson (UCLA), 6-1, 6-4
6. Carling Seguso (UCLA) tied with Claudia Wasilewski (UM), 6-3, 3-6, 3-3 Susp.
* Denotes Clinching Match - Order of Finish: 2, 4, 5, 1, 3