Saturday, April 13

Kimmi Hance clinches tiebreaker match against Stanford for UCLA women’s tennis

Junior Kimmi Hance swings to hit a backhand. Hance won both of her singles matches against the Golden Bears and Cardinal. (Brianna Carlson/Daily Bruin)

Women's Tennis

No. 14 UCLA3
No. 10 California4
No. 14 UCLA4
No. 5 Stanford3

Kimmi Hance’s teammates stood on the sidelines for over an hour, coming up with increasingly creative cheers to drown out heckling from the stands.

The junior stood in the same position as her teammate the day before, fighting her way through the third set of her match as the only Bruin left playing.

Finally, then-No. 13 Connie Ma could not reach then-No. 89 Hance’s backhand to the far side of the court, spurring a swarm of congratulations around Hance in the middle of her opponent’s stadium.

“We are so proud of Kimmi,” said sophomore Tian Fangran. “She’s the toughest person I’ve ever seen. … I’m so happy and glad she pulled out this match, and I’m really confident in our team.”

With Hance’s win, then-No. 17 UCLA women’s tennis (11-4, 5-1 Pac-12) bested then-No. 5 Stanford (14-2, 4-1) away from home 4-3 on Sunday in a match that began at noon and ran until 4:34 p.m. UCLA’s one-point win came one day after it fell to then-No. 11 California (12-4, 5-1) by the same margin after then-No. 72 freshman Bianca Fernandez lost her third set to then-No. 53 Katja Wiersholm.

The Bruins’ battle against the Golden Bears began with a doubles point loss, their first in eight matches. Hance then tied the score with a singles win over then-No. 38 Hannah Viller Moeller, the former’s first of two victories over the weekend against opponents at least 50 ranks higher than her. Hance rose from No. 89 to No. 32 after her performance in the Bay Area, according to rankings released April 2.

Cal brought in two singles wins next, but the Bruins caught right back up with then-No. 59 Tian delivering a victory over then-No. 57 Valentina Ivanov, followed by freshman Ahmani Guichard’s three-set win.

Fernandez remained in play against Wiersholm for another 10 minutes, but was unable to overcome Wiersholm’s 5-2 advantage for an eventual 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 final decision and match loss for UCLA.

On Sunday, UCLA played its longest match of the season hours before the team needed to be on its way back to Westwood.

The Bruins needed an hour to claim the doubles point despite an impending flight home. Hance and sophomore Anne-Christine Lutkemeyer clinched the doubles win for the Bruins in an 8-6 tiebreaker after losing their match the day before.

“The doubles point was huge,” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “The doubles point we lost against Cal, it hurt us. So that’s the biggest difference I think from yesterday. Today, we won the doubles point and were able to pull out three matches.”

Lutkemeyer then continued her redemption arc with the first Bruin singles win over the Cardinal after picking up the first Bruin singles loss against the Golden Bears. Her quick 6-1, 6-3 work of then-No. 92 Alexis Blokhina allowed her a long rest while her doubles partner continued to fight for every game on court two.

Tian also notched a two-set victory over her opponent with a 6-0, 6-4 win over then-No. 26 Angelica Blake to bring the score to 3-0 for UCLA. Guichard, Fernandez and junior Elise Wagle all dropped their singles matches, however, evening out the score for Hance’s marathon match.

The junior won her first set 6-4 and held an advantage in the second before losing on a 7-3 tiebreak to force a third set.

As the third set continued – extended in part to Ma needing a medical break for a bleed on her foot – Hance’s serves began to hit the net or land outside the service box, causing Stanford fans to cheer after a double fault.

“Today’s crowd definitely wanted me to lose,” Hance said. “They were heckling me, but I just tried my best not to let that affect me, and after yesterday’s match, we wanted to leave here with the W.”

The set reached yet another tiebreaker game after Ma overcame a 6-5 deficit. Hance finally notched a shot too far to Ma’s right to reach in time, and as the ball bounced and sailed to the back of the courts, the Stanford spectators quieted, and celebration immediately ensued for the Bruins.

“We haven’t really had a match where we’ve had to out-tough the other team, out-grit the other team,” Hance said. “Today (Sunday), especially beating Stanford at home, that’s not something that happens often. So I think that definitely, people are going to be watching out for us and we’re a team that they’re not going to want to play.”

Quad editor

Simons is the 2023-2024 Quad editor. She was previously the 2022-2023 managing editor, an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's tennis, men's tennis, swim and dive and rowing beats and a reporter on the baseball and women's tennis beats. She is also a fourth-year student from Oakland, California.

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