#23 UCLA Women’s Tennis (13-8, 7-3)
Opponent: #47 UC Santa Barbara (17-9, 7-1)
When: 10:00 AM PT, Friday, May 12, 2017
Where: Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center, Malibu, CA
Live Stats: Pepperdine Live Stats
UCLA is in Malibu this morning for a showdown with UC Santa Barbara in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The Gauchos (17-9, 7-1) are #47 in the latest Oracle/ITA Division I Collegiate Rankings and enter the match with a 10-match winning streak which includes their run through the Big West Tournament to claim the championship.
On the other side of the net, it's been nearly a month since the Bruins won a match, and they stagger into today's contest with three straight losses against three inferior teams. Although each loss was the result of a narrow 3-4 scoreline, the Bruins have to regain their form from the earlier portion of the Pac-12 season or their postseason won't last beyond this weekend.
UCLA and UC Santa Barbara are familiar foes. The Bruins and Gauchos met in the first week of February and on that occasion, UCLA looked sharp in chalking up a 4-0 victory. That result should give the Bruins a bit of much-needed confidence as they try to pull out of the downward spiral of the last four weeks.
UCLA has just one player ranked in the current ITA rankings--freshman Ena Shibahara at #5. The Gauchos have none. However, while Shibahara has continued to win points on her court during the Bruins' slump, results on the lower courts, particular courts 4 and 5, haven't gone UCLA's way. Sophomores Gabby Andrews and Alaina Miller have dropped points in singles in each of the last three losses. If that trend continues in Malibu, the Bruins' season will be over at the end of the weekend.
This season's team doesn't have the firepower at the top of the lineup to overcome bad outings in doubles or on the bottom courts. If the Bruins are going to win a handful of games in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, they'll need to be firing on all cylinders.