ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Kyle McPhillips had no trouble putting UCLA’s national championship in perspective.
The 20-year-old sophomore has played in all four junior Grand Slam events, but she said nothing compares to winning it all with the Bruins.
“Winning individually is so different than winning for your team and your school,” McPhillips said. “There’s been so much effort by people and hard work that’s gone into this moment right here that this is the highlight of my tennis career.”
McPhillips beat Caroline Price 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in the last singles match Tuesday, helping UCLA hold off North Carolina 4-3 for the Bruins’ second NCAA women’s tennis title.
McPhillips’ No. 3 singles victory came after teammate Robin Anderson, the tournament’s second seed, beat top-seeded Jamie Loeb 6-2, 6-2 in No. 1 singles.
Anderson, a junior, beat Loeb for the first time in three tries after losing to the North Carolina freshman in the finals of the Riviera/ITA All-America championships and the USTA/ITA indoors.
“I tried really hard not to show it, but I was really, really nervous at the end of the first set when I thought could’ve been coming back,” Anderson said. “I just fought really hard to pull out that win.”
UCLA won its first national title since 2008. North Carolina was appearing in its first final.
Bruins coach Stella Sampras Webster was delighted to earn a championship at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex after losing the 2004, 2007 and 2012 finals at the University of Georgia.
“When did we lose, I think that we lost to teams that were better than us,” she said. “I think the Georgia Tech one got away from us a little bit, but the other ones against Stanford and Florida — they were the better teams.”
All the other singles matches were completed when McPhillips and Price battled through a final game that included four match points and five break points saved by McPhillips.
When Price’s last volley sailed deep, the Bruins immediately crowded McPhillips to set off a celebration.
“I tried not to get nervous,” McPhillips said. “I reminded myself I was up 5-3, but I really tried to focus and stay intense every single point and not let it bother me when I lost a few match points.”
UCLA, which lost just two matches this season and improved to 30-0 when winning the doubles point, also got a victory from Chanelle Van Nguyen in No. 4 singles.
Hayley Carter (No. 2 singles), Kate Vialle (No. 5 singles) and Tessa Lyons (No. 6) won for North Carolina.
Tar Heels coach Brian Kalbas said it was clear that Anderson had a better approach than Loeb, who dropped to 50-3. Loeb had won 25 straight matches.
“It’s really tough to beat someone that good three times in a row,” Kalbas said. “Robin played really, really well. She didn’t make unforced errors, and I don’t think Jaime played her best, but you’ve got to give a lot of credit to Robin.”
After winning her 13th straight match and ending her freshman season with a 47-6 record, Carter began looking ahead to next season.
She believes the Tar Heels won’t be satisfied with finishing second.
“Hopefully we’ll get a national championship,” Carter said. “I’m going to work really hard this summer and see where things take us.”
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