Fifth seed UCLA gets revenge against Duke with 4-2 victory in quarterfinals
ATHENS, Ga. -- After suffering an extremely close 4-3 loss to Duke in the final of the USTA/ITA National Team Indoors in February, UCLA had a little extra motivation heading into Saturday's NCAA quarterfinal showdown and it showed, as the fifth-seeded Bruins took down fourth-seeded Duke 4-2 at Georgia's Dan Magill Tennis Complex. With the win, UCLA (25-2) reaches the NCAA semifinals for the fourth year in a row and will now take on eighth-seeded Florida (23-5) at 1 p.m. ET Monday. The Gators beat top-seeded Georgia 4-1 on Saturday.
Similar to its meeting with the Blue Devils in Virginia earlier this year, the Bruins took the doubles point on Saturday following wins at court Nos. 1 and 3. UCLA actually moved out to comfortable leads at all three courts, with the first win coming at the No. 3 spot, where Courtney Dolehide and Chanelle Van Nguyen posted an 8-3 victory against Chalena Scholl and Annie Mulholland. Robin Anderson and Jennifer Brady would soon follow, as they won at court No. 1, downing Beatrice Capra and Hanna Mar 8-5. UCLA was leading 5-2 at court No. 2 when play was suspended. Saturday marked the 27th time in 27 matches this year that the Bruins have won the doubles point.
UCLA knew that Duke (27-5) wasn't going to go down without a fight and the Bruins quickly found that out when the Blue Devils took a pair of straight-set victories to take a 2-1 lead in the match. Wins by Duke's Rachel Kahan at court No. 6 and Mar at court No. 3 suddenly gave the momentum back to the Blue Devils.
Already with first-set victories by Brady and Van Nguyen, UCLA got an added boost when Anderson pulled out a close tiebreaker at court No. 1. Van Nguyen would be next off, as she tied the dual-match score at 2-2 with a 6-4, 7-5 victory versus Scholl.
At time of Van Nguyen's victory, Anderson was up two breaks in the third set against Capra at court No. 1, while Brady was down a break at 4-5 in the second set at court No. 2. Playing back at court No. 5, Catherine Harrison was up 3-1 in the third set against Alyssa Smith.
Although she was broken while serving for the match up 5-2 against Capra at court No. 1, Anderson maintained her composure to return the favor in the very next game, taking a 7-6(5), 6-3 win to give UCLA a 3-2 lead.
With court No. 2 in the early stages of a third set, most of the fans then headed to court No. 5, where Harrison was on the verge of closing out Smith. Harrison, who actually lost the first set, dropped just four games in the final two sets, storming back to take a 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 victory to clinch the win for the Bruins.
"In the first set I was wound super tight," Harrison said. "I came out here and I was really loud when I won points and when I lost points and I don't play good tennis when I'm like that. After the first set I had a little chat with myself and said that I needed to be completely calm the entire time. I just wanted to focus on the next point and it worked."
In the only other match still on court at the time of Harrison's win, Brady was up 1-0 against Goldfield at court No. 2.
The fifth-seeded Bruins are suddenly the favorite heading into the semifinals, as the other three remaining teams are all seeded lower (No. 7, North Carolina, No. 8 Florida and No. 11 Stanford).