UCLA captures 2022 Tennis on Campus national championship
ORLANDO, Fla. — The UCLA Bruins were crowned the 2022 USTA Tennis On Campus national champions on Saturday at the USTA National Campus as they defeated the University of California, Berkeley in a rematch of the 2019 final. The win marked back-to-back titles for UCLA as the event was last held in 2019 due to the pandemic.
UCLA took an early lead as Devon Whelpley (Larkspur, Calif.) and Griffen Wolfe (San Clemente, Calif.) earned a 6-4 win in men’s doubles over Nicholas Figueira (Arcada, Calif.,) and Milad Shafaie (San Carlos, Calif.). Wolfe would go on to defeat California’s Tyler Shih (Tracy, Calif.) in a tiebreak in men’s singles to give the Bruins a 12-9 lead.
Jozephine Yen (Los Altos, Calif.) and Solia Valentine (Berkeley, Calif.) continued the UCLA momentum, winning the women’s doubles match, 6-3, over Tiffany Tang (Rogers, Calif.) and Julia Marks (Menlo Park, Calif.) before Valentine put the Bruins on the verge of victory with a 6-3 win in women’s singles over Arlina Shen (Eden Prairie, Minn.) to give UCLA a commanding 24-15 lead going into the decisive mixed doubles match.
California’s pair of Figueira and Marks cut the UCLA lead to 27-21 with a 6-3 win over Whelpley and Yen, and the World TeamTennis scoring format permitted the match to continue until either UCLA won another game or California tied the match. The Golden Bears managed to cut the lead to five before UCLA officially clinched their second consecutive title with a 28-22 win.
“We are so stoked to win the national championship,” said team captain Kaylee Kang. “It feels very rewarding to see all the hours we have put in on the court pay off in such a big way.”
Kang, who was the lone returning member of the 2019 championship team, used her experience from the 2019 event to help her lead a team of TOC Nationals newcomers.
“Knowing the level of competition that we should expect to face at Nationals definitely helped us prepare,” she said.
California captain Kathryn Wilson was one of two members of the of the 2019 runner-up team to return to TOC Nationals in 2022.
“Having played through the whole tournament focused on the current match at hand, reaching the finals felt surreal,” said Wilson.
“More than anything, I felt deeply proud of our team for staying present, keeping a positive attitude and even practicing resiliency when we didn’t get the outcome we so badly wanted. We left it all out on the court, and that’s all I could’ve asked for.”
Both teams, like most college club programs, were faced with a significant layoff due to the pandemic and were forced to almost entirely rebuild their rosters.
But both team captains credited their newer members for creating a new team identity this season, limiting the pressure of repeating 2019’s results heading into the event.
“The two players from the 2019 team helped with preparing the others for how the tournament worked," said Wilson, “but because we didn’t want this year to be a repeat of 2019, I think the amount of newcomers we had actually helped us.”
“It helped that the team was composed of almost all newcomers, so they set expectations for themselves,” echoed Kang. “If there was any pressure, I don’t think anyone was really showing it.”
UCLA’s path to victory included pool victories over North Dakota, UCF and Stony Brook. In the knockout rounds, the Bruins beat UC San Diego, Pepperdine and Brown en route to the final. Meanwhile, California earned wins over Utah, UT-Dallas and American University in pool play followed by wins over Northwestern, Washington and Florida in the knockout bracket.
This is UCLA’s third overall national title, while California remains at four, one shy of the record five held by Texas A&M.
Visit the Tennis On Campus website for complete results, stories and photos.
The USTA Tennis On Campus program features more than 14,000 college students competing nationwide in intramural and intercollegiate coed club play. Since its inception in 2000, Tennis On Campus has grown significantly and today is played on more than 300 college campuses.
Developed by the USTA in partnership with NIRSA and World TeamTennis, the Tennis On Campus program gives college students the opportunity to build leadership skills, network in a coed sports environment and compete on a college team without the rigors of playing in a varsity program. With year-round match play and regional and national championship competition, students maintain active and healthy lifestyles through their college years.
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