Women's tennis takes second place

After losing to UC Davis in the California Collegiate Athletic Association women’s tennis tournament last year, UCSD hoped to gain redemption Sunday when it faced the Aggies in the finals of this year’s tournament. However, there was only deja vu as UC Davis beat UCSD again.

Guardian file photo

The ninth-ranked Tritons beat Cal State L.A. and host Grand Canyon University to reach the finals Friday and Saturday, respectively.

UCSD opened with a solid 7-2 win over the Golden Eagles of Cal State Los Angeles, the CCAA’s eighth-place team. Triton coach Liz LaPlante took this opportunity to rest some normal starters in the singles matches.

The Tritons won two of the three doubles matches, with Ashley O’Neil and Mary Hung winning 8-1 and Jasmin Dao and Kristina Jansen sweeping 8-0. In No. 1 doubles, Tadlock and Westerman lost in an 8-6 squeaker to Tamara Encina and Kathrina Menzel.

In singles, Lyndsey Tadlock moved to the No. 1 singles position, giving regular No. 1 Dao a rest. However, Tadlock couldn’t stop CCAA top-ranked player Tamara Encina and lost 1-6, 1-6. Encina’s two victories would be the Golden Eagles’ only points of the encounter. LaPlante rested her normal No. 2 Ashley O’Neil as well, placing Mary Hung in that spot. Hung struggled but eventually put her opponent away in a third-set tiebreak 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (10-6). From No. 3 to No. 6, the story was entirely one-sided. Jansen, Westerman, Sarah Bahlert and Stephanie Moriarty each won, dropping a combined six games in eight total sets.

The next day the Tritons faced much stiffer opposition from 18th-ranked Grand Canyon. Earlier in the season, UCSD stole a 5-4 decision over the Antelopes and did it again Saturday afternoon. The day started ominously with the Tritons dropping two of the three doubles matches.

Dao and Jansen were the lone victors with an 8-3 walk in the No. 3 competition. Tadlock and Westerman labored to a 4-8 defeat, and O’Neil and Hung lost a nail-biter 6-8.

Singles saved the day for UCSD. In the earlier meeting between the two teams, the Tritons lost the top three singles and won the bottom three. However, this time it would be the top three that would win the clutch matches.

No. 5 Jansen and No. 6 Westerman each cruised to 6-1, 6-1 victories and No. 2 O’Neil and No. 4 Hung dropped straight-set matches.

Down 4-3 and needing to win the last two matches, No. 1 Dao and No. 3 Tadlock stepped up their games. Dao came into the match with a 7-12 record compared to her opponent’s 13-9 record. It was Dao who took the initiative in the match, taking the first set 6-4, then taking the second set 6-1 to even the team score.

All eyes then focused on the No. 3 match between Tadlock and Christine LiWanPo. Tadlock lost to LiWanPo earlier in the year 3-6, 0-6, but this match ended in a different manner. Tadlock took the first set 6-1 before dropping a break in the second 4-6. The third set ended with a 7-5 tiebreaker to give the third set to Tadlock 7-6.

Attempting to ride the momentum gained from such an important win, the Tritons headed into the championship game against UC Davis to avenge last year’s loss. The two teams met earlier this season, with UCSD edging out the Aggies with a 5-2 victory.

Tadlock and Westerman dropped a heartbreaker, 7-9, at No. 1. O’Neil and Hung were on the wrong end of a 6-8 decision, while Dao and Jansen weren’t close in their 8-3 loss.

Going into singles play needing to win five matches, the Tritons rallied but fell a point short. Tadlock, Hung and Westerman all picked up straight-set victories, while at the same time Dao and O’Neil dropped straight-set matches to give the Aggies the victory. Jansen eventually won in the No. 5 match to give the Tritons their fourth point, but the doubles losses proved too big an obstacle to overcome.

The loss to UC Davis stung the Tritons, who were expecting to host one of the two National Collegiate Athletic Association Western Regionals in two weeks.

Now UCSD awaits word from the NCAA selection committee about where and who it will play in the Western Regional, with UCSD’s North Courts remaining a distinctive possibility as host. Two teams from the West will advance to the NCAA Championships May 9 through May12.