Opponent: #26 Northwestern (16-7)
When: Sunday, May 10, 12:01 PM PDT
Where: Los Angeles Tennis Center, Los Angeles, CA
Live Stats: UCLA Live Stats
UCLA Resources: UCLA Official Tournament Preview
NCAA Resources: NCAA Digital Tournament Program | NCAA Bracket
The sixth-ranked Bruins' title defense got off to a great start yesterday when they shut out Idaho 4-0 in their NCAA tournament opening round match. UCLA's second round opponent is #26 Northwestern. The Wildcats advanced to the second round by defeating St. Mary's 4-0.
The Bruins Blank the Vandals
It's fair to say that the Bruins walloped the Vandals in yesterday's first round match. The 4-0 final scoreline suggests dominance, but it doesn't indicate how lopsided the results were on each court.
UCLA made quick work of the Vandals in doubles. Although Catherine Harrison was playing with a new partner--Terri Fleming instead of Kyle McPhillips--the pair earned an 8-1 victory on court 2. Just a few minutes later, Robin Anderson & Jennifer Brady claimed the doubles point for the Bruins with an 8-2 win on court 1. Chanelle Van Nguyen & Kristin Wiley were ahead 7-2 on court 3 when the doubles point was awarded.
The Bruins were no less dominant in singles. Catherine Harrison's impressive run of form continued with a 6-0, 6-0 victory on court 4. Terri Fleming has also been playing outstanding tennis recently, and she thoroughly dominated her opponent on court 5, 6-1, 6-0. Robin Anderson earned the Bruins' third singles point and the fourth point of the match with a straightforward 6-1, 6-2 win on court 1.
That was all that UCLA would need, but it's worth noting the results on the other courts. When the match concluded, Chanelle Van Nguyen was up 6-0, 3-0 on court 2, Jennifer Brady was ahead 6-1, 5-2 on court 3, and Kaitlin Ray was leading 6-2, 5-2 on court 6. In other words, the Bruins were superior on every court and in every set yesterday.
Scouting the Wildcats
Like the Bruins, Northwestern earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats finished third in the Big Ten and were defeated 4-1 by #18 Ohio State in the second round of the Big Ten tournament.
Northwestern doesn't have any singles players ranked in the ITA top-125, but it has one of its doubles teams ranked in the ITA top-90; Alicia Barnett & Erin Larner are ranked 48th.
The Bruins and the Wildcats have played several common opponents this season. In February, the Bruins dropped St. Mary's 6-1; the Wildcats defeated St. Mary's 4-0 yesterday. Last month the Bruins slipped by Arizona State 4-3, while Northwestern lost 4-3 when they hosted the Sun Devils in January. Finally, UCLA knocked off Baylor 4-3 in Waco, while the Wildcats lost at home to Baylor, 5-1.
Northwestern is 1-5 against top-25 teams this season. The Wildcats sole victory came against then #21 Rice in January.
What to Expect
As I noted in yesterday's preview, UCLA is well-positioned to make a deep run in the tournament. The Bruins are talented and experienced in tournament competition. The Bruins have leaders. And today, the Bruins have home court advantage.
There is nothing in Northwestern's results this season to indicate that they have what it takes to upset the Bruins today. The Wildcats are a solid team, though, so the Bruins will likely have to work much harder to advance to the round of 16. To the extent that there is a key matchup to watch, keep an eye on Chanelle Van Nguyen in singles. If she struggles to win her duel, the Bruins may have a long afternoon.