Women's tennis clinches its first CCAA title

    The UCSD women’s tennis team won its first California Collegiate Athletic Association regular-season title during spring break.

    The Tritons picked up their first loss of the season to Division I San Jose State University and won four other matches, including a decisive victory over Grand Canyon University last Friday.

    UCSD began the five-game stretch with consecutive 9-0 sweeps of Division III’s Vasser University and Bowdoin College.

    Ashley O’Neil led the Tritons against the 38th-ranked Brewers March 13, first teaming with Mary Hung for an 8-0 win at No. 2 doubles before winning 6-0, 6-1 at No. 2 singles. In total, the Tritons lost only 30 games in the 15 sets played.

    Two days later, UCSD welcomed 15th-ranked Bowdoin. The Tritons lost only one set on their way to picking their 13th win of the season with Julie Westerman (6-0, 6-1) and Hung (6-0, 6-2), each recording convincing victories in No. 6 and No. 4 singles, respectively.

    After those two wins, the Tritons took a 12-day break for finals before heading to Irvine to take on San Jose State on March 26. UCSD dropped the matchup 4-3 for its first loss of the season.

    The Tritons suffered from weakness at the top of their lineup in the loss to the Spartans. In doubles, UCSD dropped the top two matches, with Lyndsey Tadlock and Westerman losing 4-8 while O’Neil and Hung struggled to a 1-8 loss. Kristina Jansen and Jasmin Dao combined for the only Triton victory with an 8-2 win.

    In singles, UCSD nearly pulled off the victory, but losses at the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 positions proved too much to overcome. Jansen at No. 5 and Westerman at No. 6 pulled down straight-set victories while Hung won a 3-set thriller 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.

    No. 2 O’Neil and No. 3 Tadlock dropped their matches in straight sets while Dao lost the decisive No. 1 singles match in three sets, 2-6, 6-1, 4-6. The loss to San Jose State dropped the Tritons to 13-1 on the season.

    Two days later, the Tritons returned to San Diego to host Division III Colby College. This meeting proved to be the easiest for the Tritons, who failed to drop a set to their 27th-ranked opponents. O’Neil swept her No. 2 singles match 6-0, 6-0. Jansen and Westerman dropped only one game while Tadlock lost only two.

    The most important matchup for the Tritons was saved for the last meeting of the break, a trip to Grand Canyon University with the CCAA title on the line.

    The Tritons rose to the occasion and knocked off the 15th-ranked Antelopes 5-4 in UCSD’s closest CCAA match of the season. The Tritons’ depth was too much for GCU, with UCSD picking up wins at No. 1 and No. 3 doubles as well as No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 singles.

    No. 1 Tadlock and Westerman won 8-6, and No. 3 Dao and Jansen took their match 8-3. No. 2 Hung and O’Neil lost a tiebreaker 9-8.

    Up 2-1, the Tritons headed into the singles matches needing to win only half of the matches, and win exactly half they did.

    Like earlier in the week against San Jose State, the bottom three players each won their matches with Hung’s pivotal victory (3-6, 7-6, 7-5) in No. 4 singles being the closest match of the day. No. 1 Dao and No. 3 Tadlock lost their matches in straight sets, and O’ Neil dropped a three-set match at No. 2 singles.

    With the win, UCSD finished 8-0 in the CCAA, winning the regular season title in the school’s second year in the league.

    “”Winning the regular season [is] great,”” said coach Liz LaPlante, “”but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win the tournament [April 19-21 in Phoenix, Ariz.].””

    Both Jansen and Westerman finished the season with perfect league records; Jansen finished 7-0 in CCAA singles play and 8-0 in doubles play, while Westerman compiled an 8-0 record in both singles and doubles. Overall, Jansen is the only undefeated Triton with a 15-0 record in singles and a 16-0 record in doubles, with 15 of those wins coming with Jasmin Dao at No. 3 doubles.

    The Tritons have struggled at the top all season long, posting a 32-16 record in the top three singles spots. However, the bottom three singles spots have amassed a 46-2 record and the doubles have gone 42-6.

    “”Our depth is our strongest asset,”” LaPlante said. “”We obviously would like to win more games up top.””

    Now 15-1, the Tritons are looking ahead to next weekend’s Xenia Anastasiadou Tournament in Pomona, Calif. The three-day tournament features No. 4 Barry University and No. 6 Abilene Christian University (which beat UCSD in the NCAA tournament last year), as well as host Cal Poly Pomona, ranked 15th.

    “”This is where we will evaluate where our team is and what we need to work on for the CCAA tournament and nationals,”” LaPlante said. “”It will be the best competition we’ve faced all year.””

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