April 18, 2012
LOS ANGELES - The top-ranked UCLA women's tennis team (21-1; 8-1 Pac-12) has just one regular-season match remaining and it's a big one, as the Bruins host crosstown rival No. 4 USC (19-3; 8-1 Pac-12) this Friday at the Los Angeles Tennis Center at 3:00 p.m. The two teams head into the match with identical 8-1 records in Pac-12 play and the winner will guarantee itself at least a share of this year's conference title. For the Bruins, it would mark the program's first league championship since 2008. There is no charge for admission for Friday's contest. There will also be free give-a-ways for fans, as well as free pizza and Diddy Riese cookies. The UCLA Marching Band is also scheduled to make an appearance.
Friday actually marks the third showdown between UCLA and USC this season, with the Bruins winning both prior contests. UCLA defeated USC, 4-0 in the semifinals of the ITA National Team Indoors in February, and also downed the Women of Troy, 4-3 on March 1 at USC. Bruin freshman Chanelle Van Nguyen picked up the clinching victory in that match, as her 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Gabrielle DeSimone at court No. 5 clinched the win for UCLA.
There will be no outright Pac-12 Champion this year, as one of the Southern California schools will be co-champions with one of the Northern California schools. That's because UCLA, USC, Stanford and Cal all head into the final match of the regular season with just one league loss. The only thing up in the air is figuring out which team will get the Pac-12's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Assuming UCLA beats USC, the Bruins will get the automatic bid if Stanford downs Cal on Saturday. The only way UCLA will not get the automatic bid with a win is if Cal wins. The Bears own the head-to-head over UCLA by virtue of a 4-3 win in Berkeley on April 13.
The Bruins are coming off a 1-1 showing in the Bay Area last week. UCLA suffered its first loss of the season at No. 10 Cal on Friday afternoon. The showdown in Berkeley came down to the final match, as Cal's Annie Goransson edged Van Nguyen, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 at court No. 5 to give her team the 4-3 upset. UCLA rebounded quickly, however, coming back the following day to defeat No. 6 Stanford, 5-2. With the win, the Bruins handed the Cardinal their first regular-season home loss in more than 13 years, snapping a 157-match home winning streak.
Freshman Robin Anderson enjoyed an outstanding week up north, beating two top 10 singles opponents. She downed former NCAA Singles Champion and eighth-ranked Jana Juricova of Cal, 2-6, 6-1, 7-5 on Friday afternoon. She then followed that up with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over third-ranked Nicole Gibbs of Stanford. Anderson also teamed with Skylar Morton to upset third-ranked Mallory Burdette and Gibbs, 8-6 in doubles. For her efforts, Anderson was named the UCLA Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week.
Despite the loss at Cal, the Bruins remain No. 1 in this week's rankings issued by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Duke, Florida, USC and Stanford round out the top 5. New individual rankings were also released on Tuesday and Anderson moved up to a career-high No. 3 in singles. She is followed by No. 96 McCall Jones, No. 107 Morton, No. 110 Van Nguyen and No. 118 Kaitlin Ray. Speaking of Ray, she won her 26th straight match against the Cardinal, improving to 29-2 overall and 21-0 in dual matches. She is tied for the team lead in singles wins with Anderson, who is 29-6 overall.