No. 1 UCLA Edges Second-Ranked USC, 4-3
LOS ANGELES - Bruin freshman Chanelle Van Nguyen picked up one of the biggest victories of her tennis career on Thursday, as her three-set victory at the No. 5 singles position propelled the top-ranked UCLA women's tennis team to a 4-3 victory over No. 2 USC at the Marks Tennis Stadium. At 12-0, the Bruins are off to their best start in 22 years, as the 1990 team also began the season with 12-straight victories.
With Thursday's contest tied at 3-3, the deciding match came down to a pair of freshmen at the No. 5 spot, where Van Nguyen was facing USC newcomer Gabrielle DeSimone. After dropping the opening set 6-4, Van Nguyen eventually found her rhythm in the second, cruising to a 6-2 win. She was then able to break DeSimone twice in the final and deciding set, eventually closing out the match on her serve to take a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory and give UCLA the thrilling 4-3 win.
"Chanelle is a great player," said UCLA head coach Stella Sampras Webster, who has now led her team to six-straight wins over USC. "She has a ton of experience, maybe not in college but she has played some really big matches in her junior career. So I felt confident when it came down to her. She is someone who doesn't get overwhelmed and I think she thrives on the pressure actually. She was facing a tough opponent who really made her play. Chanelle just did an unbelievable job competing and executing the game plan."
Van Nguyen's match-clinching victory was preceded by two more singles wins by UCLA freshmen, as both Robin Anderson and Kaitlin Ray accounted for the Bruins' other two singles points. At court No. 1, Anderson, who is ranked fifth in the latest ITA singles rankings, downed 13th-ranked Zoe Scandalis, 6-3, 6-3. It marked the third meeting between the two players this season. Scandalis actually notched a 6-0, 6-2 win over Anderson at the Freeman Memorial Championships in Las Vegas in January. The other showdown came at the ITA National Team Indoors in Virginia, however that match was suspended with Anderson up 4-2 in the third set after UCLA clinched the win.
Ray extended her winning streak to 16 on Thursday, notching a straight-set victory over Alison Ramos at court No. 6. Ray dropped just one point in a first-set tiebreaker to take the set 7-6(1) before cruising to a 6-1 second-set win. It marked her team-leading 19th win of the season.
In addition to its outstanding performance in singles, UCLA began the day by winning the doubles point for the 11th time in 12 matches this season. The Bruins posted a slight upset at court No. 1, where 14th-ranked Anderson and Skylar Morton downed third-ranked Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria, 8-5. UCLA clinched the point when McCall Jones and Carling Seguso posted an 8-6 win over 36th-ranked Valeria Pulido and Scandalis.
"We knew that the doubles was going to be very important for us because USC is such a great singles team," added Sampras Webster. "I'm really proud of the team and how they fought. To beat USC at USC is very tough. I thought everyone did a great job fighting. Even the ones that lost, they fought and they stayed in their matches."
Both of USC's losses this season have come to UCLA, as the Bruins also beat the Women of Troy, 4-0 in the semifinals of the ITA National Team Indoors. USC's record is now 9-2 on the year. Thursday's match does not count in the Pac-12 standings, as the league match between the two teams will be on April 20 at UCLA.
The Bruins open up conference play next week, hosting Washington State on March 9 at 1:30 p.m.
#1 UCLA 4, #2 USC 3
Mar 01, 2012 at Los Angeles, CA (Marks Tennis Stadium)
1. #14 Anderson/Morton (UCLA) def. #3 Christian/Santamaria (USC) 8-5
2. Lao/Ramos (USC) def. Pamela Montez/Van Nguyen (UCLA) 8-2
3. Jones/Carling Seguso (UCLA) def. #39 Valeria Pulido/Scandalis (USC) 8-6
UCLA Wins Doubles Point
1. #5 Robin Anderson (UCLA) def. #13 Zoe Scandalis (USC) 6-3, 6-3
2. #16 Danielle Lao (USC) def. #104 McCall Jones (UCLA) 6-2, 6-3
3. #26 Sabrina Santamaria (USC) def. #74 Pamela Montez (UCLA) 6-2, 6-3
4. #84 Kaitlyn Christian (USC) def. #107 Skylar Morton (UCLA) 6-3, 6-0
5. #94 Chanelle Van Nguyen (UCLA) def. Gabrielle DeSimone (USC) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
6. #80 Kaitlin Ray (UCLA) def. Alison Ramos (USC) 7-6(1), 6-1
UCLA 12-0; National ranking #1
USC 9-2; National ranking #2
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (4,1,3,6,2,5)