No. 18 UC San Diego Opens Dual Campaign Friday, Remains in La Jolla for Entire Month
The 18th-ranked University of California San Diego women's tennis program officially starts its 2019 dual campaign this weekend with the first three dates of a season-long seven-match homestand which will keep the Tritons in La Jolla throughout the month of February. All seven contests are at Northview Tennis Courts on North Campus, with admission free. The opener is set for this Friday, Feb. 8, against 13th-ranked NCAA Division II West Region rival Azusa Pacific (0-1), beginning at 12 p.m. The busy weekend concludes with future Division I and Big West Conference foe Cal Poly (0-2) on Saturday and top-ranked defending Division III national champion Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (0-0) on Sunday, both also at noon. Following a matchup with 21st-ranked city rival Point Loma (0-0) on Thursday, Feb. 14, at 2 p.m., the month ends with Redlands (0-0) on Saturday, Feb. 16 (11 a.m.), and Division II West Region opponents Stanislaus State (0-0) on Friday, Feb. 22 (2 p.m.), and Sonoma State on Sunday, Feb. 24 (1 p.m.). Redlands is No. 26 in Division III.
HOME MATCH POLICIES
Admission into regular-season contests at Northview Tennis Courts is free, but parking is only free on weekends. Parking permits can be purchased at machines located in all lots. Fans are encouraged to arrive early on weekday afternoons, as parking could be impacted with classes in session. Parking options include the large oval separating Northview Tennis Courts and Triton Track & Field Stadium, the lot behind the Triton Soccer Stadium stands, or if both areas are full, the Hopkins Parking Structure behind RIMAC.
ABOUT THE OPPONENTS
Among these first seven opponents for UC San Diego, as of the end of the day on Wednesday, Feb. 6, only Azusa Pacific and Cal Poly had actually opened their dual-match seasons. APU fell 4-3 at home to No. 4 Hawai'i Pacific on Wednesday morning. The Mustangs are 0-2 following losses to UC San Diego's Division II rival Sonoma State (4-3) and San Jose State (5-2) in San Jose late last month. Their scheduled meetings with Alabama and Gonzaga this past weekend in Santa Barbara were washed out by rain. CMS begins the 2019 slate with a trio of matches Feb. 8-9, ahead of the Athenas' La Jolla visit. UC San Diego edged out Point Loma as the West Region's fourth and final qualifier into the 2018 NCAA Championship, having swept the season series from the Sea Lions. The Tritons went 4-3 in their matches against five of the seven squads on this homestand a year ago. UC San Diego last met Redlands and Cal Poly back to back to begin the 2017 season, defeating both at home.
UC SAN DIEGO LINEUP
UC San Diego has seven returners and two true freshmen making up its 2018-19 roster. Back is the No. 1 doubles tandem of fourth-year senior Ashley Chao (San Diego/Rancho Bernardo HS) and junior All-American Becky Chou, who were also the primary No. 1 and No. 2 singles players a season ago, respectively. Fourth-year seniors Madison Hale, Alexandra Weil and Chloe Wight join them, as well as juniors Valeria Corral (San Diego/Mater Dei Catholic HS) and Brittany Newton. Anu Bhadada (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS) and Shweta Kumar are the two rookies. Hale and Weil have teamed up in doubles in each of the past three years, to the tune of a 49-18 mark. The duo moved up from No. 3 to No. 2 last year, with Wight and graduated partner Nousha Nowamooz generally the No. 3 pair. In singles, Weil mostly played at No. 3, with Corral at No. 5 and Hale or Wight at No. 6. Chao has the most career singles wins of any current Triton, at 36, with Weil at 35.
UC San Diego, No. 18 nationally, is rated No. 4 in the season's first Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) West Region poll, released on Jan. 16. Upcoming opponents APU (No. 3), Point Loma (No. 5), Stanislaus State (No. 10) and Sonoma State (No. 6) all also appear in the regional listing. The Tritons will face off with eight of the other nine teams in the top 10 (all but Hawai'i Hilo), for a total of 11 matches in 2019. In the individual regional rankings back on Nov. 14, seniors Alexandra Weil and Chloe Wight were No. 10 and No. 13, respectively, in singles. Weil and Wight together appeared at No. 10 in doubles.
MILESTONE 40 FOR COACH LIZ
This season marks the milestone 40th of legendary head coach Liz LaPlante in charge of the UC San Diego women's tennis program. She is the longest-tenured coach on the Triton staff, with fellow San Diego State graduate Denny Harper having completed his 39th year at the helm of the men's water polo team. LaPlante has led UC San Diego to four national championships (1985, 1987, 1989, 1994) and five national runner-up efforts (1982, 1984, 1990, 1995, 2000), all at the NCAA Division III level, as well as seven California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) banners, all in succession between 2004-10, before the league stopped sponsoring tennis. The four national titles are still the third-most in Division III history. LaPlante's all-time dual-match record stands at 576-289. She has recorded winning seasons and posted double-digit victory totals in all but five of her campaigns. Her teams have had 20 or more wins on five occasions. The San Diego Union-Feature featured LaPlante last month. Read Tod Leonard's piece here.
ON THE CUSP OF 50
Madison Hale and Alexandra Weil have been doubles partners for the entirety of their college careers, having not teamed up in an official dual match with anyone other than each other. Their record as a tandem is 49-18, just one victory shy of a milestone 50. Hale and Weil were still partners at No. 2 doubles throughout UC San Diego's three exhibitions last month. A third fourth-year Triton senior, Ashley Chao, begins her final season with a 45-21 doubles mark.
UC San Diego captains this season are senior Madison Hale and junior Becky Chou, as voted on by their Triton teammates. Alexandra Weil, like Hale a fourth-year senior, is a member of the Triton Athletes' Council (TAC) Executive Board, in charge of fundraising. She will return home to Denver, Colo., following Friday's season opener against Azusa Pacific, to accept the 2018 USTA Colorado Female Player of the Year Award on Saturday night. Weil was also recently recognized as a Sportswomen of Colorado Outstanding Achievement in Tennis - College honoree.
In continuing efforts to better standardize college tennis across all NCAA levels and shorten the length of matches, the Tritons face several changes in 2019. There is no-ad (advantage) scoring in NCAA tennis, meaning the first point after a 40-40 deuce score in singles or doubles, ends that game. Doubles goes to six games and not eight, just like singles. You still have to win by two games, with a tiebreak coming into play at 6-6. The three doubles matches result in a single point, to whichever team wins two. Contests still begin with doubles, followed by a five-minute break, and then singles.
On Nov. 27, 2017, UC San Diego was officially invited to become a member of the NCAA Division I Big West Conference. The Tritons begin a four-year reclassification period starting in the fall of 2020, and will play a full Big West schedule that season. During the transition, UC San Diego will be eligible for the NCAA Championship in men's volleyball, men's and women's water polo, and men's and women's fencing. For the 2024-25 academic year, all sports will be eligible to compete in Big West and NCAA Division I championships. Men's volleyball became an associate member of the Big West for the 2018 season, and women's water polo will join the conference in the spring of 2020. Read the full press release here.
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UC San Diego begins March with a quick road trip to Division II West Region rival Cal State LA on Saturday, March 2, at 12 p.m., before returning to La Jolla for a key trio of matches March 6-8 against nationally-rated squads that all made the quarterfinals of the 2018 NCAA Championship, in top-ranked two-time reigning national champion Barry, No. 6 Academy of Art and No. 4 Hawai'i Pacific.
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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