No. 31 Tritons Evens Record With 5-2 Victory Over Fifth-Ranked Division III Power Williams
LA JOLLA, Calif. - The No. 31 University of California San Diego women's tennis team swept doubles and took the top four singles positions to get past fifth-ranked NCAA Division III powerhouse Williams College, 5-2, Monday at Northview Tennis Courts.
In snapping a two-match losing streak, UC San Diego evened its overall record again at 5-5. Williams, from Williamstown, Mass., dropped to 2-5, including 2-4 on its seven-match California trip. Both teams are on their Spring Break.
UC San Diego thus avenged a 7-2 loss to the Ephs a season ago, also at home, on March 26. Williams is a record 10-time Division III national champion, most recently in 2015 and 2017. The Tritons are third in Division III history with four crowns before moving up to Division II for the 2001 season.
The Tritons are now 2-1 against Division III opposition in 2019, with one more road date at fourth-ranked Pomona-Pitzer in their regular-season finale on April 20. They previously were edged 4-3 by then-top-ranked reigning national champion Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, and blanked then-26th-ranked Redlands, 7-0, both at home in February.
Doubles began with a quick 6-1 decision for UC San Diego's fourth-year partnership of Madison Hale and Alexandra Weil at No. 2. Freshman Shweta Kumar and senior Chloe Wight stormed back from a 5-2 deficit at No. 3 and won five straight games to earn a 7-5 triumph over senior Korina Neveux and freshman Maxine Ng, clinching the doubles point. The Triton duo broke serve to break a 5-5 tie, with Kumar then serving out the match. The Irvine product had a solid forehand winner down the line early in the final game, and Wight later the close-range smash on the decisive point.
The final doubles tilt was completed on the No. 1 court, with senior Ashley Chao (San Diego/Rancho Bernardo HS) and junior Becky Chou pulling out a tiebreak victory, 7-6 (7-3). They broke serve to go up 4-2, but were immediately broken back for 4-3, ahead of deadlocks at 5-5 and 6-6.
Weil was first off the singles court, breezing past Neveux at No. 2, 6-1, 6-1. Freshman Julia Pham registered the Ephs' first point with a straight-set win over Wight at No. 5, 6-2, 6-0, and Ng actually temporarily evened the match at 2-2 with a 6-3, 6-4, success over Kumar at No. 6.
The Tritons took it from there, however, as Chao dispatched senior tri-captain Leah Bush at No. 1, 6-4, 6-4, and Valeria Corral (San Diego/Mater Dei Catholic HS) cruised over fellow junior Emily Zheng at No. 4, 6-1, 6-2. That was the match clincher, and marked Corral's sixth consecutive singles triumph, all coming in the No. 4 slot.
Chou, a singles All-American a year ago, was allowed to play out her third set, rallying from a narrow first-set defeat to down junior tri-captain Chloe Henderson at No. 3, 6-7 (7-9), 6-3, 6-1. It was her team-leading seventh singles win of 2019.
"As a team I felt that we had opportunities to execute what we wanted to execute, especially our plan and our strategy," said second-year UC San Diego assistant coach Denny Fafek. "Last year, they gave us a really tough run and beat us pretty badly, so it's great to walk away today with a win. The No. 3 (doubles) team being down 5-2 and then coming back and winning 7-5, that's a huge accomplishment. It was a big boost to win a doubles point that way, and it translated into our singles play."
Having now concluded a season-long, season-opening 10-match homestand, UC San Diego finally faces its first road foray of 2019. The Tritons fly to Northern California Tuesday morning for three matches in three days, beginning Wednesday at 12 p.m. at Mills College in Oakland against Division II West Region foe Holy Names (7-6).
"To gain more match play and a lot more confidence," concluded Fafek about what the Tritons will be looking for up north. "Keep executing our strategy and the patterns that we've been working on, and hopefully that carries through the rest of these matches. We want to stay healthy. It's going to be cold over there with the rain and everything. We're looking to stay active, but also let the ladies relax a little bit away from school, get fresh, and hopefully be strong for the rest of the season."
#31 UC San Diego 5, #5 Williams 2
March 25, 2019 at La Jolla, CA (Northview Tennis Courts)
1. Ashley Chao/Becky Chou (UCSD) def. Leah Bush/Emily Zheng (WC) 7-6 (7-3)
2. Madison Hale/Alexandra Weil (UCSD) def. Chloe Henderson/Julia Pham (WC) 6-1
3. Shweta Kumar/Chloe Wight (UCSD) def. Korina Neveux/Maxine Ng (WC) 7-5
1. Ashley Chao (UCSD) def. Leah Bush (WC) 6-4, 6-4
2. Alexandra Weil (UCSD) def. Korina Neveux (WC) 6-1, 6-1
3. Becky Chou (UCSD) def. Chloe Henderson (WC) 6-7 (7-9), 6-3, 6-1
4. Valeria Corral (UCSD) def. Emily Zheng (WC) 6-1, 6-2
5. Julia Pham (WC) def. Chloe Wight (UCSD) 6-2, 6-0
6. Maxine Ng (WC) def. Shweta Kumar (UCSD) 6-3, 6-4
Williams 2-5; National ranking #5; Regional ranking #2
UC San Diego 5-5; National ranking #31; Regional ranking #4
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (2,5,6,1,4,3)
Williams ranked No. 5 nationally in NCAA Division III
W🎾: Chloe with the smash to win at No. 3 and clinch doubles point for No. 31 #UCSanDiego! She and Shweta stormed back from 5-2 down to win 7-5 after Maddy and Lex won easily on No. 2 court. Ashley and Becky tied 6-6 late at No. 1.#GoTritons 🔱 #Tritons #D2Tennis #NCAATennis pic.twitter.com/q6tzAm7L4L— UCSD Athletics (@UCSDtritons) March 25, 2019
About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.
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