No. 2 Florida Downs No. 1 UCLA, 4-0 in NCAA Final
May 22, 2012
Athens, Ga. - One day after recording an emotional victory over cross-town rival USC in the NCAA Semifinals, the top-seeded UCLA women's tennis team came up just short in its quest for a national title on Tuesday, suffering a 4-0 loss to No. 2 Florida in the title match at the University of Georgia's Dan Magill Tennis Complex. The loss marks just the third of the season for UCLA, which ends the year 26-3 overall. The win for Florida (27-1) gives the program back-to-back NCAA Championships.
The Gators took a 1-0 lead in Tuesday's final following doubles wins at court Nos. 1 and 3. UCLA's sixth-ranked Robin Anderson and Skylar Morton got off to a rough start at court No. 1 and were never able to fully recover, losing the first six games against top-ranked Sofie Oyen and Allie Will before eventually falling 8-2. And although UCLA enjoyed early breaks at the other two courts, the Gators bounced back to take a 6-4 lead at court No. 2 and 7-5 advantage at court No. 3. UCLA's ninth-ranked Courtney Dolehide and Pamela Montez got their break back at the No. 2 spot; however Florida closed things out at No. 3, where Alex Cercone and Caroline Hitimana beat McCall Jones and Carling Seguso, 8-5.
"I think Florida just really came out strong in the doubles, especially at No. 1 doubles," said UCLA head coach Stella Sampras Webster, who was looking for her second NCAA title after leading UCLA to the championship in 2008. "(Florida) played with a lot of energy and fire. I think we had some chances at 2 and 3, but they played well. They won a lot of the big points. Losing that doubles point was tough. We knew they were a very strong team and they are very deep, but we still felt like we could win this. They just played better than we did today in certain spots. They really seemed to dominate at 4 and 5. We just weren't as sharp as we needed to be to beat a team like Florida. I haven't seen them play all year so I don't know if that was their best match or if that was just how they play, but they definitely out-played us today."
Needing to win four singles matches to pull off the victory, the Bruins came out after the intermission and managed to take first sets on three courts, as Anderson, Montez and Seguso all got out to early leads. Seguso actually fought off a set point in the tiebreaker against Olivia Janowicz at court No. 6, while Anderson was a 6-4 winner over Will. Montez also took the first set, 6-3, over Joanna Mather.
Florida, however, notched two straight-set wins at court Nos. 4 and 5 to take a 3-0 lead in the match. Cercone lost just two games en route to a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Chanelle Van Nguyen at court No. 5, while Oyen was a 6-3, 6-2 winner over Morton at court No. 4. Morton actually owned a 3-0 lead in the first set before Cercone went on to win 12 of the next 14 games.
Playing over at court No. 2, Florida's Lauren Embree, who clinched last year's NCAA title for the Gators, looked like the best bet for her team's fourth point of the day, as she moved out to a 5-0 second-set advantage over Jones. She ended up closing out the set without dropping a game, taking a 6-4, 6-0 win to give Florida the national championship.
When play was suspended, Montez was in the second game of the third set at court No. 3, while Seguso was up a set and down 2-5 in the second at court No. 6. Playing over at court No. 1, Anderson was just a game away from knocking off the nation's top-ranked player, as she led Will, 6-4, 5-2. It was an amazing effort for Anderson, who was taken to the hospital and treated for cramping following the win over USC.
"I felt pretty good today," said Anderson when asked about her condition. "I went out and just tried to fight my hardest and play as best as I could with what I had. I was being successful with it. I just wish I could've pulled out the match. But I felt that I played pretty well today."
UCLA had three players named to the all-tournament team, as Anderson was named the tournament's best player at No. 1 singles, and Dolehide and Montez earned the same honor at No. 2 doubles.
Four UCLA players are sticking around for the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships, beginning tomorrow in Athens. Anderson is seeded No. 4 in singles and is a No. 5-8 seed in doubles with Morton. Dolehide and Montez are also teaming together in doubles.
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