WACO, Texas -- The fans at the Hurd Tennis Center on the campus of Baylor University will be in for a treat Sunday during the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Championships.
The defending champion UCLA Bruins will take on the North Carolina Tar Heels in a rematch of the 2014 NCAA championship final. UCLA won its second team title by edging North Carolina 4-3 at the University of Georgia in Athens.This year, seventh-seeded UCLA (21-4) opened the nationals with a 4-1 round-of-16 victory against No. 10 Texas A&M on Friday. The match was moved to Baylor's Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center because of rain. In the same facility, second-seeded North Carolina (30-1) beat No. 15 Miami (Fla.), also by a score of 4-1.
Leading the Bruins is 19th-year head coach Stella Sampras Webster, who also guided UCLA to the crown in 2008.
"Our full team, except one player in doubles, is the same as last year," Sampras Webster said. "The matches will be different, but I think we have players with a lot of experience playing this match. I especially have three seniors playing this year.
"Both teams are so solid, it's going to come down to a few points here and there. The team that gets those will probably win. It will be a good match."
Sampras Webster is also an alum of UCLA, receiving a degree in psychology in 1991. She captured the NCAA Doubles Championship as a freshman in 1998 with Allyson Cooper. Sampras Webster, a four-time All-American, was also doubles runner-up her senior year with Kimberly Po. As a pro, Sampras Webster attained a doubles ranking of No. 142 in the world, and was No. 248 in singles. She competed in both singles and doubles at the U.S. Open and Lipton Championships, as well as playing TeamTennis for the Wichita Advantage.
Sampras Webster is part of a pre-eminent family of tennis. Her younger brother, Pete, was the winner of 14 major pro singles titles, including seven at Wimbledon, five at the U.S. Open and two at the Australian Open. According to his sister, Sampras is a huge fan of the Bruins.
"He is very supportive and follows our results," Stella Sampras Webster said of her sibling. "He comes to the office all of the time and talks with our players."