With Tuesday's dual match tied at 3-3, all eyes focused on court No. 3, where McPhillips and UNC's Caroline Price were battling in a tight third set. McPhillips was able go up a break late in the set to take a 5-3 lead. Serving for the match, however, she quickly got down 0-40 and it looked as if Price would get it back on serve. But McPhillips stayed steady, chipping away at Price's lead to eventually get the game back to deuce. The two players would go back and forth the rest of the game, with McPhillips needing to fight off two more break points and Price saving three match points. Finally, on McPhillips' fourth match point, Price tried to take advantage of a short ball and followed it into the net. McPhillips responded by driving a backhand toward the middle of the court and Price put a little too much on her volley, sailing it just beyond the baseline to begin the Bruin celebration.
"This is the single best accomplishment I've ever had in my life," said McPhillips in the post-match press conference. "I've played Wimbledon, Australian Open, French Open, U.S. Open, and nothing compares to this day right here. Winning individually is so different from winning for your team, your coaches, and school. This is the highlight of my tennis career."
Added head coach Stella Sampras Webster, "I'm just really proud of my team. We came out really excited to be playing for a championship. We knew that doubles was going to be really important. We knew that North Carolina was a strong team, singles-wise, so I just told my team to focus on one point at a time and hopefully not get too caught up in the moment. They did a great job. It came down to the last match with Kyle and she was able to pull out that last set to give us that fourth point. I'm so happy for my team."
McPhillips' moment to shine might not have happened had it not been for several other key singles wins from Robin Anderson and Chanelle Van Nguyen. Anderson, who is ranked second nationally, knocked off the nation's top-ranked player Jamie Loeb, 6-2, 6-2 at court No. 1 for the Bruins' first singles win of the day. Loeb and Anderson had twice faced each other this year, with Loeb taking both matches in straight sets.
"I went into the match thinking that I really had nothing to lose, so I just decided to go out there and play my game," said Anderson, who was named the NCAA Tournament's Most Outstanding Player. "I tried to stay really aggressive and, regardless of the outcome, just know that I gave it my all."
Van Nguyen's victory came with a little more pressure, as her showdown with Ashley Dai at court No. 4 was one of three matches still on court with the dual match tied at 2-2. Van Nguyen, who lost the first set, stormed back to take the final two sets for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 win, giving UCLA a 3-2 lead. It was a huge win for the Bruins, who were about to go down 6-5 in the third set at court No. 6, where UNC's Tessa Lyons would eventually take a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory over Bruin junior Kaitlin Ray.
The Bruins began the match by doing what they always do -- win the doubles point. UCLA, which has not lost the doubles point in 29 matches this year, claimed victories at court Nos. 1 and 2 to earn the point. The point was clinched when top-ranked Anderson and Jennifer Brady defeated third-ranked Hayley Carter and Loeb, 8-7 (3).
"We knew that doubles was going to be really important," said Sampras Webster. "North Carolina played very well but we were able to pull out two of those doubles which was, again, important for us. We haven't lost a doubles point all season so there was a lot of pressure on us to do that."
UCLA's doubles play didn't go unnoticed, as the Bruins swept all three positions on the NCAA Tournament Team for doubles. Anderson and Van Nguyen were also named to the team at No. 1 and 4 singles, respectively.
With the win, UCLA ends the season with a 27-2 overall record, the most wins by the program since 1982 (29).
#3 UCLA 4, #7 North Carolina 3
May 20, 2014 at Athens, GA (Dan Magill Tennis Complex)
|1. #1 Anderson/Brady (UCLA) def. #3 Carter/Loeb (UNC) 8-7(3)|
|2. #9 Harrison/McPhillips (UCLA) def. #13 Whitney Kay/Price (UNC) 8-2|
|3. Courtney Dolehide/Van Nguyen (UCLA) vs. Dai/Lyons (UNC) 6-7, unfinished|
|1. #2 Robin Anderson (UCLA) def. #1 Jamie Loeb (UNC) 6-2, 6-2|
|2. #5 Hayley Carter (UNC) def. #8 Jennifer Brady (UCLA) 6-2, 6-2|
|3. #38 Kyle McPhillips (UCLA) def. #59 Caroline Price (UNC) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3|
|4. #13 Chanelle Van Nguyen (UCLA) def. #105 Ashley Dai (UNC) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3|
|5. Kate Vialle (UNC) def. #75 Catherine Harrison (UCLA) 6-4, 6-4|
|6. Tessa Lyons (UNC) def. Kaitlin Ray (UCLA) 4-6, 6-4, 7-5|
|North Carolina 29-6; National ranking #7|
|UCLA 27-2; National ranking #3|
|Order of finish: Doubles (2,1); Singles (1,2,5,4,6,3)|