UCLA rallies to take down second-seeded North Carolina in quarterfinals
URBANA, Ill. -- After suffering a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to North Carolina in the final of the ITA National Team Indoors earlier this year, seventh-seeded UCLA exacted revenge on the No. 2-seed Tar Heels on Sunday, registering a 4-1 upset in the quarterfinals of the NCAA championship at the University of Illinois' Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex. With the victory, UCLA (20-5) earned a spot in Monday's semifinals and will take on No. 3-seed Texas A&M (25-3).
The Bruins lost the doubles point for the first time in its four NCAA tournament matches on Sunday, as the Tar Heels took a 1-0 lead following a pair of wins at court Nos. 1 and 3. Although it didn't matter in the end, UCLA had a strong showing at No. 2 doubles, where 38th-ranked Courtney Dolehide and Pamela Montez were 8-1 winners against Ashley Dai and Lauren McHale.
UCLA, which had won the doubles point against the Tar Heels in the earlier meeting this year, found itself needing to win four singles matches to move on in the tournament.The Bruins' top three singles players of Robin Anderson, Kyle McPhillips and Montez were all able to win in straight sets to give UCLA a 3-1 lead.
McPhillips, who is ranked 20th in the country in singles, was the first to finish her match at court No. 2, dispatching of 49th-ranked Zoe De Bruycker 6-4, 6-1. Next off was the third-ranked Anderson at court No. 2, as she beat seventh-ranked Gina Suarez-Malaguti 7-5, 6-1. Montez, who is unranked in singles, pulled off the upset at court No. 3, where she downed 39th-ranked Whitney Kay 6-4, 6-4. It was a sweet win for Montez, who lost to Kay in a third-set tiebreaker in the deciding match in the finals of the National Team Indoors.
Following the win by Montez, UCLA looked like it was going to close things out, as both Dolehide and Chanelle Van Nguyen were within a few games of winning their matches at court Nos. 6 and 4, respectively. The Tar Heels bounced back, forcing third sets on both courts.
UCLA, however, began to take control at court No. 5, where 93rd-ranked Catherine Harrison was beginning to pull away from McHale. Harrison, who lost the first set, stormed back to take a 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 win to put the Bruins in the semifinals for the third year in a row.
"It was very humid out here [Sunday]," UCLA head coach Stella Sampras Webster said. "All day and all week we've been on them about hydrating. We don't want to put ourselves in a situation where the players are going to cramp up. That's the only thing I was concerned about. We wanted them to be able to finish these matches. I wanted us to finish them in two sets, but we just fought hard. We did a good job preparing for [Sunday] and we were able to finish it."