No. 37 Tritons Round Out Regular Season With Five; Senior Day on April 13
The 37th-ranked University of California San Diego women's tennis program, coming off a busy, perfect four-match Spring Break, rounds out the 2019 regular season with five April dates. The Tritons (8-5) first round out a season-long five-match road stretch at a pair of top Division II West Region rivals in No. 15 Azusa Pacific (10-6) on Saturday, April 6, at 1:30 p.m., and city foe Point Loma (10-4) on Monday, April 8, at 3 p.m. Parking and admission are both free at Point Loma, with live video streaming available for a fee of $8.95.
UC San Diego then hosts Concordia Irvine (9-9) on Wednesday, April 10, at 2 p.m. Senior Day is Saturday, April 13, against Cal State LA (6-7) at 12 p.m. Admission is free into Northview Tennis Courts on North Campus in La Jolla. Parking permits are required on Wednesday only. The regular season concludes at Pomona-Pitzer on Saturday, April 20, also at 12 p.m. The Sagehens are ranked No. 4 in Division III. The Tritons are 2-1 in prior matchups in 2019 with Division III opponents, all ranked in the top 26.
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.
The date with Cal State LA on Saturday, April 13, at noon, will mark the final home match in the careers of fourth-year Tritons Ashley Chao, Madison Hale and Alexandra Weil. Hale is a co-captain this season. All three have eclipsed the 50-win plateau in career doubles, with Hale and Weil achieving all 58 of theirs together as four-year partners. Chao is 42-34 in singles and 53-25 in doubles. Hale is 18-16 in singles and 58-22 in doubles. Weil is 43-28 in singles and 58-20 in doubles.
CHLOE COMING BACK!
Despite three departing veteran seniors, UC San Diego did receive some good news recently, as a fourth four-year Triton, Chloe Wight, has announced that she has opted to use her final season of eligibility and return for the 2019-20 campaign. Wight went the first two years of her time at UC San Diego, without taking part in any action, and thus has eligibility left. Wight is 14-8 in singles and 20-15 in doubles over the past two seasons.
ABOUT THE OPPONENTS
UC San Diego dropped a 4-2 decision to then-13th-ranked Azusa Pacific in its opener at home back on Feb. 8. The Tritons blanked then-20th-ranked Point Loma, 7-0, also at home on Feb. 27 after that tilt was postponed twice by rain. They were subsequently rained out of a road date at Cal State LA on March 2, and that match will not be made up. Pomona-Pitzer won its only Division III national championship back in 1992, with the Tritons of course four-time victors before their departure for Division II. Last year, the Sagehens were among the final 16 teams left in the NCAA Championship, losing 5-0 to eventual first-time national champion Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. UC San Diego was edged by then-top-ranked CMS at home earlier this year, 4-3.
UC San Diego has lost four straight to APU dating back to the home matchup in 2016 (6-3 on Feb. 10), with a season sweep for the Cougars last year. The Tritons have three wins in a row over Point Loma, having taken both meetings in 2018. UC San Diego has taken the last five over Cal State LA going back to a 6-3 home loss on April 12, 2015. The Tritons have bested Concordia for four straight seasons, and five successive times in all. They previously faced Pomona-Pitzer on the road on Feb. 14, 2016, winning 8-1.
DOWN GOES DAVIS!
UC San Diego completed its perfect 4-0 Spring Break, and three-match Northern California trip, with a dramatic 4-3 triumph at future Division I and Big West Conference rival UC Davis last Friday, March 29. The Tritons took the doubles point, but the match was tied at 3-3, with just the No. 4 singles court to go. There, Chloe Wight was down 2-5 in the third set and facing two match points at 30-40, before winning the next two points to make it 3-5, and ultimately pull out a 7-6 (7-0) tiebreak for the 4-3 decision. It was the Tritons' first success over UCD since 2005, following nine straight defeats in the all-time series. They will be in the Big West together in the 2021 dual season.
UC SAN DIEGO LINEUP
UC San Diego has six 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 junior Valeria Corral (San Diego/Mater Dei Catholic HS). Anu Bhadada (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS) and Shweta Kumar are the two rookies.
Chao is still at No. 1 in singles, with Weil (No. 2) and Chou (No. 3) switching places. Corral has mostly been at No. 4. Wight has solidified the No. 5 position since her return from injury, with Kumar or Bhadada generally playing on the No. 6 court. Weil and Wight both began the dual year a perfect 5-0 before losing for the first time. Chou was a winner of six straight dual contests before being upended on March 8, and has a team-best 10 singles wins (10-2). Corral is on a team-best win streak of seven in a row, all at No. 4.
In doubles, Chao and Chou are at No. 1 again with an 8-4 mark. Hale and Weil are teaming up for a fourth consecutive year, having moved up from No. 3 to No. 2 last season. They are 9-2 and have won a season-best five straight. Kumar and Wight are 7-4 at No. 3 with four wins in a row.
UC San Diego, up two spots in the latest national poll on April 3 from No. 39 to No. 37, is rated No. 4 in the season's first Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) West Region poll, released on Jan. 16. Upcoming opponents Azusa Pacific (No. 3), Point Loma (No. 5), Concordia (No. 7) and Cal State LA (No. 8) are all in the regional listing. The Tritons face off with eight of the other nine teams in the top 10 (all but Hawai'i Hilo), for a total of 10 matches in 2019. They are an even 3-3 thus far against that group. Individually, Ashley Chao and Becky Chou are No. 44 nationally in doubles as of April 3. In regional rankings back on Nov. 14, seniors Alexandra Weil and Chloe Wight were No. 10 and No. 13, respectively, in singles.
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 584-294. 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 in January. Read Tod Leonard's piece here.
Fourth-year seniors Ashley Chao, Madison Hale and Alexandra Weil have each achieved the milestone 50th dual-match doubles victory of their careers this season. Hale and Weil collected theirs together in a 7-0 home victory over Redlands back on Feb. 16. All 58 of their doubles wins have come together as four-year partners. Only Hale has played with anyone else, Feb. 9 and Feb. 10 of this season with freshman Anu Bhadada, with Weil back home in Denver, Colo., to accept an award. Their record as a tandem is now 58-20. Chao's win No. 50 came in another 7-0 team triumph at home, over city rival Point Loma on Feb. 27. That was with third-year partner Becky Chou, with 39 of 53 coming with her. Chao's dual-match doubles record is 53-25.
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 returned home to Denver, Colo., following the season opener against Azusa Pacific, to accept the 2018 USTA Colorado Female Player of the Year Award. 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 a couple of changes in 2019. Doubles now goes to six games and not eight, just like singles. You still have to win by two games, with a tiebreak (to seven, win by two points) coming into play at 6-6. The three doubles matches result in a single point, to whichever team wins two. An existing manuever is that there is no-ad (advantage) scoring in NCAA tennis, meaning the first point after a 40-40 deuce score, ends that game. 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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Following the regular-season finale at Pomona-Pitzer on April 20, UC San Diego will await its 2019 NCAA Championship fate, hoping for a return trip after falling at Hawai'i Pacific in the opening round a year ago, 5-1 in Honolulu, Hawai'i.
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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For complete coverage and information regarding UC San Diego Athletics, follow the Tritons online at UCSDtritons.com and through social media on Twitter (@UCSDtritons), Instagram (@ucsdtritons) and Facebook (UCSDtritons). For more information on UC San Diego Women's Tennis, follow on Instagram (@ucsdwomenstennis).