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Bruin Bites: Stumbles in Olympic Sports

It was a long week for the UCLA Olympic Sports teams. Fortunately, we are in the early stages, and there will be plenty of opportunities to climb back up the ladder.

#1 singles Robin Anderson
#1 singles Robin Anderson
ITA Tennis

The goal for every UCLA team is to win a national championship (other than Men's Basketball, where the goal is to win three straight within the city limits, so that you can write "Mission Complete"). When our teams lose, it seems worse, because we are competing at the top levels where every loss is magnified. This article will sound negative, for which I apologize in advance. Our student-athletes are sacrificing for themselves, their teammates, and our school. And their service should be recognized. But with the goal of #113, we are a little further away from that now than we were a week ago. And that hurts.

---The defending national champion and #1 ranked Women's Tennis team traveled to Virginia for the ITA National Women's Team Indoor Championships. The Bruins lost this tournament this year, and went on to win the national championship. We will need to repeat that pattern again in 2015.

After starting the season 3-0, UCLA faced unranked Kentucky in the ITA round of 16. And it was no contest, as the Bruins breezed to a 4-0 victory. After winning the doubles point at #1 and #2, UCLA moved onto the singles phase of the match. Senior Robin Anderson continued her solid season with a 6-0 (bagel, not a donut), 6-1 win at #1 singles. Junior Kyle McPhillips won her match at #3 singles 6-1, 6-2 to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead. And freshman Terri Fleming closed out the match with a 7-6, 6-1 win at #6 singles. This was Fleming's first match of the spring season. What a good way to start your collegiate career. Here is the official recap.

The next day the degree of difficulty ratcheted up, as UCLA took on #9 ranked Georgia in the quarterfinals. And the Bruins suffered the first loss of the season, 2-4. The loss of Jennifer Brady for the Charlottesville trip due to injury hurt UCLA in the doubles portion, as she had paired with Robin Anderson in earlier matches. With the reshuffling, Catherine Harrison and McPhillips won at #1 doubles, but Chanelle Van Nguyen and Kristin Wiley lost at #3 doubles and the team of Anderson and Fleming lost at #2 doubles, to put Georgia ahead 1-0. To make matters worse, Catherine Harrison, the usual #4 singles, was injured in the doubles match, which caused more reshuffling for the singles. Freshman Kristin Wiley came in at #6 singles and was defeated to make the score 2-0. But senior Kaitlin Ray, who moved up to #4, won her match 7-5, 6-2 to narrow the gap to 2-1. Senior Chanelle Van Nguyen lost in three sets at #2 singles to put Georgia ahead by two again, 3-1. But Kyle McPhillips came up big 6-3, 7-6 at #3 singles to bring the score back to 3-2. Terri Fleming, who moved up to #5 singles with Harrison's injury, took her match to three sets but lost and that was it for the Bruins.

Yesterday, the Bruins faced #12 ranked Miami in the consolation bracket, and with Catherine Harrison back in the mix, UCLA cruised to another 4-0 victory. Van Nguyen and Wiley won at #3 doubles after the Bruins dropped the match at #2 doubles. It all came down to #1 doubles, and Catherine Harrison and Kyle McPhillips pulled out the match 7-6 to give the Bruins the doubles point. Robin Anderson then continued her march through the competition with a 6-2, 6-0 (bagel, not donut) win at #1 singles. Kaitlin Ray won at #5 singles 6-1, 6-3 and Kyle McPhillips finished the match off with a 6-2, 6-4 win at #3 singles.

The Bruins are in action again this Saturday at home against #20 ranked TCU. Not the result we were hoping for in Virginia, but it wasn't the result we were hoping for last year either, and 2014 worked out very well.

---The 4th ranked Men's Golf team went to Hawaii for a tournament. They fell behind in round one and never bounced back, finishing 10th in the tourney. Perhaps they were mesmerized by the scenery at the Waikoloa King's Course. That is my excuse for my round there. But what scenery. Black lava, blue ocean, deep green. It is enough to make you forget Haas Pavilion. Senior Manav Shah was solid on day one, with a round of 67 (-5), made up of 7 birdies and 2 bogies. But the next three scores for the Bruins were even par, putting the Bruins in a tie for 12th after the first day.

UCLA fared no better on day two, as they combined for a -4 score, to inch up for a tie for 11th place. Junior Lorens Chan paced the Bruins with a 70 (-2). Shah and senior Jay Hwang each had 71 (-1). And with another par round, the Bruins had their -4 combined total.

UCLA played its best round on Saturday. #1 Jonathan Garrick came alive after two even par rounds, as he smoked the course for a 65 score (-7), including five birdies and an eagle on the par 5 2nd hole. #3 Manav Shah continued his excellent tournament with a closing round 69 (-3), to finish with a 3 day total of -12, best on the team. Lorens Chan and freshman Brandon Mai each had rounds of 70 (-2). With four golfers at least two under, UCLA was in the enviable position of being able to discard Jay Hwang's 71 (-1). All five golfers under par. It would be great to see a few more days like that.

The only team ranked ahead of UCLA to play in Hawaii was Oregon, which finished tied for 3rd. Unranked Arizona State won the tourney by two shots. The Bruins have a breather now until next Monday, when they begin a three day tourney in La Quinta.

---The #6 (ESPN)/#7 (USA Today, coaches) Softball team had a rough start to the season. In the season opener, UCLA beat Idaho State on Thursday with a six inning win 13-3. The next day, the Bruins thumped #24 Texas A&M 13-0 in five innings. Senior Ally Carda pitched the first four innings, giving up two hits and striking out six. She added a home run and 4 RBI's for good measure. Here is the box score.

Then the wheels came off, as the Bruins dropped two straight. First, UCLA lost to #22 Notre Dame on Friday night, 8-4. And then the Bruins lost on Saturday to the same Texas A&M squad they had dumped the day before. The score in the rematch was 6-4. Carda came in to relieve in the 2nd inning, and pitched five strong innings with two runs allowed on two hits, but the damage had already been done.

UCLA bounced back in the nightcap, beating Purdue 9-3. Junior Brittany Moeai had two home runs in the game and five RBI's. The Bruins finished the weekend schedule with a Sunday game against San Diego State, which the Bruins won 4-1. Next up is a trip to Vegas for a three day tournament beginning this Friday.

All in all, not a great week on the Olympic Sports front. But again, there are plenty of matches coming up, and plenty of time to make our way back to the top.

Go Bruins !!