Tennis on Campus Sectionals 2024: Hardware returns to San Diego, five schools qualify for Nationals - USTA Southern California




UCSD Club Tennis



FEBRUARY 22, 2024

UCSD Club Tennis
UCLA Club Tennis

Top: UCSD won TOC Sectionals for the first time since 2014; Bottom: UCLA finished runner-up and clinched a bid to Nationals.
(Photos – Jon Mulvey/USTA SoCal)


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On February 17th and 18th, the Southern California Tennis on Campus season concluded as the Sectional Championships took place at The Claremont Club. Fifteen universities were represented, with schools sending multiple teams within their clubs to compete. With coveted bids to the USTA Tennis on Campus National Championships on the line, players were hungry to have the opportunity to battle it out against the best in the nation.

Matches were played utilizing the co-ed World TeamTennis format featuring singles, doubles and mixed play, with each line consisting of just one set. Each team was represented with players in female doubles, male doubles, female singles, male singles and mixed doubles to determine the victor of the overall match. The team that would win the Section Championship as well as the remaining top three teams qualifying for the semifinals in the Gold bracket would all earn automatic bids to the National Championships. The culmination of the 2024 Tennis on Campus Season, Nationals is set to take place this April 4-6 in Rome, Georgia as 64 colleges and universities will duke it out to crown the best collegiate club team in the country.

Kicking off day one, the 32 teams were bracketed off into eight pools consisting of four teams a piece. In pool play, each team squared off against the other three teams in their group to determine who would advance to the Gold bracket and have a shot to qualify for Nationals. 

Seven of the eight top seeds dominated their pools and in doing so did not concede a match throughout play. The lone upset came at the hands of LMU’s A team as the Lions knocked off sixth seeded Cal Poly Pomona’s A team to close out their undefeated day. Joining Loyola Marymount in winning their pools were Cal Poly SLO’s A team, UCLA’s A team, UCSD’s A team, USC’s A team, UCSB’s A team, SDSU’s A team and UCI’s A team. Heading into day two, the action heated up as bids for Nationals were in sight. 

University of California San Diego (UCSD) 

The third ranked seed entering the qualifying rounds, UCSD’s A team made quick work of their first two opponents. Defeating Claremont McKenna’s B team and UCLA’s C team by scores of 30-4 and 30-12 respectively, only one team stood in their way of reaching the Gold bracket. Facing an also undefeated University of San Diego A team, the Tritons were again dominant. Besting the Toreros by a score of 29-15, UCSD secured their spot in the Gold bracket for day two.  Only losing one set throughout the qualifying rounds, the Tritons went undefeated in male doubles, female singles, male singles and mixed doubles. 

Entering the gold bracket, UCSD faced LMU in a battle of undefeated teams. While dropping the sets in male doubles, male singles and mixed singles, massive victories were earned at both female doubles and singles. With a score of 23-20 in favor of the Tritons, the match was sent to overtime in mixed doubles as LMU won the doubles set. In overtime, Logan Li and Rachel Sherrill pulled off a huge victory to keep the teams’ hopes alive, propelling them to the semifinals of the Gold bracket. Automatically earning a Nationals berth with their semifinals appearance, UCSD was still eager to keep their winning ways alive, and that they did. Squaring off against the top seeded team in Cal Poly, UCSD showed why they belonged in the final. Winning their sets at four of the five lines, the Tritons downed the Mustangs by a score of 27-18. The pair of Sahil Iyer and Li picked up a clutch victory in male doubles, while Jared Admiraal had a convincing win in male singles.

The championship match was now set as the Tritons were aligned to play the perennial powerhouse that is UCLA. Trading wins back and forth, UCSD pulled out victories in female doubles, female singles and male singles while UCLA secured wins in male doubles and mixed doubles. With the match heading to overtime due to UCLA’s wins in doubles, it all came down to a single game in mixed doubles. With everything on the line, Ethan Vo and Alyson Hirota were victorious, claiming the game, set, match and the championship for the Tritons. UCSD’s victory capped off an undefeated weekend for the squad and gave the Tritons their first Sectionals Championship in ten years. Highlighting the squad, Allyson Chen and Lesa Ritchie remained undefeated as a female doubles team in bracket play, with Chen also winning her third straight match in singles. 

Keeping spirits high was key for the Tritons throughout the tournament. “We have put a lot of pressure on ourselves, but we’ve been prioritizing having fun which I think has helped us get to where we’re at right now,” stated second-year Lesa Ritchie. “I love the silliness of our team and think it is very unique compared to some schools.” 

While qualifying for Nationals just a year ago, it was only a matter of time before the Tritons once again secured a championship victory at Sectionals. This win carries immense significance for the group, and they hope they can keep the momentum going heading into Nationals.“Winning Sectionals means a lot. We were really hoping to win coming into this event, and honestly didn’t know if we could, but I guess we proved ourselves wrong,” shared first-year Jared Admiraal. “We have never gotten this far and I’m excited to see how far we can make it at Nationals,” added Ritchie. 

University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)

The runner-ups, the Bruins were no easy team to beat, and had their talent on full display during both pool and bracket play. The number two seed heading into pool play, UCLA took down a tough UCI B team in their first match by a score of 28-14. It was smooth sailing from that point forward, as the Bruins cruised in their next two matches, winning by scores of 30-4 against CSUF’s B team and 30-3 against SDSU’s B team. Only losing one set, the Bruins went undefeated in male doubles, female singles, male singles and mixed doubles. The three victories in pool play  launched the Bruins into the Gold bracket where they would encounter UCI’s A team in the quarterfinals. 

In an extremely tight match, sets were traded back and forth with the Bruins securing wins in female doubles, female singles and male singles. After a tough loss in mixed doubles, the match was sent to overtime with the score sitting at 21-20 in favor of UCLA. Bouncing right back, the duo of En-Ya Zhang and Kyle Shigekawa put the nail in the Anteater’s coffin, claiming the set and the match in overtime. Guaranteeing a trip back to Nationals with this win, the Nationals champions from just two years ago were on the hunt to bring another Sectionals title back to Westwood. Taking on SDSU’s A team, the Bruins were dominant, claiming wins in four of the five sets with the fifth being decided via tiebreak. Zhang and Talia Lieb extended their win streak in female doubles while Saachi Pavani won her second set of the day in female singles. On the men’s side, Nishad Elias and Sam Allais picked up their first male doubles win of the afternoon. The pairing of Mari Shigekawa and Griffen Wolfe capped off the match with a win in mixed doubles. 

Falling just short of the title in the championship match against UCSD, the Bruins had a very impressive showing in Claremont. Club advisor and former club president, Mark Otten was very proud of the success his team had during Sectionals. While not the outcome they hoped for, the Bruins look to make a deep push at Nationals, where they have been champions in two of the last three years. 

“I’m very happy with how our team has competed,” mentioned Otten. “Nationals is such a tough tournament to win. We’ve been there so many times and made runs to the final four and the championship. When we won a couple of times, the team was making it look easy and I know it’s not. I expect them to do really well again and am excited to watch.”

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly SLO)

A powerhouse in the SoCal section, Cal Poly entered Sectionals with one thing on their minds, revenge. After a historic run for the program last year at Nationals, the Mustangs fell short in the end, losing in the championship to the University of Virginia. Returning an extremely talented team to Sectionals, the Mustangs rode in as the number one seed of the tournament. Kicking things off against Pepperdine’s B team, Cal Poly made a statement early. With a clean sweep over the Waves, the ‘Stangs only conceded five sets. The duo of Krishna Agrawal and Carson Kellogg pitched a shutout in male doubles while Samarth Bala earned a shutout of his own in male singles. Following this victory, Cal Poly made quick work of USD, winning by a score of 29-8. The doubles team of Agrawal and Kellogg shut out their opponents once again and Agarwal claimed his first male singles victory of the day, also via shutout. Rachel Post and Bailey Smolinski earned their second straight win in female singles, while the mixed doubles duo of Samantha Frick and Bala did not concede a game. Ending the day with their largest margin of victory, Cal Poly took down LMU by a score of 30-4. Winning at every line, the Mustangs headed into the Gold bracket with the highest percentage of games won of any team in the tournament.

Facing a familiar foe, Cal Poly went to battle against USC’s A team to begin quarterfinal action. Meeting in the final of Texas Fall Invitational in October, the match between the Mustangs and the Trojans was cut short due to rain. Now facing off once again at Sectionals, both teams looked to secure a key victory with a bid to Nationals at stake. With the Mustangs losing early in female doubles, female singles and male singles, hope was almost lost. That was until captain Derek Sung would step up big for his squad, winning matches when the team needed him most. Alongside Kellogg, Sung captured a win at male doubles and then followed that up with another win at mixed doubles pairing with Shreya Ravilla. Forcing overtime, Sung and Ravilla would shine once more, clinching the final set and match for the Mustangs. 

Suffering defeat to the eventual champion UCSD Triton’s, the Mustangs’ run came to an earlier end than hoped. Although defeated, spirits remained high as the event was an extremely memorable experience, especially for newcomers to the team. “Sectionals has been super fun and the level of competition is amazing,” remarked first-year Samantha Frick. “I love this team and this has been a super great environment to be in. We’re going to try to make it as far as possible at Nationals. If we could make it to the finals again or win the whole thing, that would be a dream come true. 

San Diego State University (SDSU)

A true feel good story, SDSU took no chances this year and worked harder than ever to earn a bid to Nationals. A team that was a mere one point away from qualifying just a year ago, veteran leadership and exceptional play paved the way for the Aztecs at Sectionals. The seventh seed in the qualifying rounds, SDSU was bracketed off into a flight consisting of Claremont McKenna’s A team, UCLA’s B team and Cal Poly SLO’s B team. Facing off first against CMC, the Aztecs had full control throughout, winning by a score of 29-14. Taking on the Bruins in their next match, SDSU was victorious once again, with huge wins coming at female doubles, male doubles and female singles. In their final match of the day, SDSU toppled Cal Poly, claiming wins at four of five of the lines. Multiple players led the way for the Aztecs as they qualified for the Gold bracket. The partnership of Arielle Valera and Kailee You went undefeated at female doubles while Jolie Morgan did not drop a set in female singles. On the men’s side, Matthew Garrido was perfect in male doubles, winning matches with both Daniel Generalov and Michael Rafael.

One victory away from heading to Nationals, SDSU faced a very tall task in the form of UCSB’s A team. Winning via tiebreak in both matches, the duos of Valera/You and Garrido/Generalov started off the scoring, earning crucial points at female and male doubles. Morgan kept her winning ways alive, remaining undefeated at female singles with a big 6-2 win. Falling in the next two sets in male singles and mixed doubles, the match was sent to overtime. With tensions higher than ever, it was up to the mixed team of Valera and Generalov to secure the win, and that they did. Clinching the final point, chaos erupted on court, and the Aztecs punched their ticket to Nationals.

Although the team suffered defeat in their semifinals match, SDSU achieved what they had waited more than five years for, a berth back to Nationals. This accomplishment meant everything to the team, but was especially sweet for three members of the team that experienced heartbreak last year. Club president and third-year Lauren Martin, captain and grad student Vinh Nguyen and captain and third-year Agni Herur wanted this win more than anything. “We’re really happy to have the chance to go to Nationals. It’s been a lot of work to get here. We came into this year as three people who have been with the program for a long time with one goal,” stated Herur. “It’s been a huge team effort to get here,” added Nguyen. “Last year, we were one spot away from making Nationals so there was no team that wanted this more than us.”

While winning always has its perks, being a part of SoCal Tennis On Campus has provided immense opportunity for students at university, especially those at SDSU. “Playing club tennis is a big deal for many members of our team. We’ve met some great people and so many of my college friends have formed through Tennis On Campus. It’s nice to reconnect with everyone here at Sectionals and we’ve had such a good time,” shared Martin. “Playing club tennis is a chance for us to escape from school and we really appreciate this opportunity,” said Herur. 

University of Southern California (USC)

Another California super-team, USC showed up to Sectionals and went straight to work. The fourth seed in qualifiers, the Trojans duked it out against UCR’s B team to begin their weekend. USC overpowered UCR, winning at every line and only conceding four games throughout the match. In female doubles, Khai-Ly Tran and Hannah Jiang were victorious, as was Kevin Liu in male singles. Shutting out their opponents at three lines, the male doubles team of Adam Lewczuk and Krish Waghani kicked things off with a shutout at male doubles. Victoria Aguirre followed suit in female singles, leading the way for Nathan Wang and Lauren Sun to cap off the match with a 6-0 win of their own in mixed doubles. Going to battle against Pepperdine’s A team in their next match, USC pulled out a win by a score of 28-16. Winning at four of five of their lines, USC was rolling heading into their final match of the day. The duo of Wang and Sun in mixed doubles were victorious once again, as was Aguirre in female singles. Krish Waghani and Rahul Padam Mehta claimed victory in male doubles while Justin Lenderman picked up his first win of the day in male singles. Facing off against SDSU’s C team to end the day, USC didn’t hold back, outscoring the Aztecs 30-4. Leena Cashman picked up victories in female singles and female doubles while teaming with Tran. Wang and Liu took down the competition in male doubles, Lewczuk shut out his opponent in male singles, and the pair of Jiang and Waghani bested their opposition in mixed doubles to wrap up the match and pool play. 

Losing a tough battle to Cal Poly in overtime of the quarterfinals in the Gold bracket, it had seemed that the Trojans’ season had come to an end. This was until USC learned the news that they would have a chance to take their talents to Georgia, as they were awarded the sole wild card bid from the section. Based on the team’s outstanding performance at the Fall Invite in Austin, Texas, the section decided that USC was deserving of a bid to Nationals. Having the opportunity to compete at the grand stage is a privilege to many, but means even more to some students who are in their final year of college. “I’m really looking forward to traveling with the team one last time and playing at Nationals again. It’s going to be nice to head back to Georgia as I used to live there. The opportunity means so much,” shared grad student Nathan Wang. 

Silver and Bronze Bracket

For the teams that did not qualify for the Gold bracket, stakes were still high. As day two began, the remaining 24 teams were sorted into the Silver and Bronze brackets based off of their day one performances. Ultimately, UCLA stole the show, claiming titles in both brackets.

In the Silver bracket, UCLA’s B team kept their impressive play alive. Going 2-1 during day one, the Bruins picked up victories over Cal Poly SLO’s B team and Claremont McKenna’s A team, while falling to SDSU’s A team. The squad’s most impressive win came against CMC, as UCLA swept the opposition by a 30-13 score. During bracket play, the Bruins faced their toughest test yet, taking on and taking down USD’s A team. Squeaking out a 22-20 victory, big victories were solidified in male doubles, female doubles and mixed doubles. Facing UCSD B’s team in the semifinals, UCLA was victorious once again by a score of 27-17. Alongside Balin Patel, Dylan Chan won his second consecutive match in male doubles, while Anna Chassion picked up her second straight victory in female singles. In the finale, UCLA took on UCR’s A team, and in doing so, defeated them by a score of 30-13. Winning at all five lines, the Bruins proved why they were deserving of the Silver bracket title. Amanda Sato and Natalie Rodriguez won via tiebreak in female doubles while Zackary Lamm and Jake Kagnoff were dominant in male doubles. Chassion picked up another win via shutout, ending her day as undefeated in female singles. Ruhan Waghmare claimed the win in dramatic fashion, securing the victory via tiebreak in male singles. In mixed doubles, Emily Lan and Patel routed their opponents to close out the match. 

Finding themselves in the Bronze bracket after finishing 1-2 on day one, the UCLA C team was determined to make a run. Winning at four of five of the lines, the Bruins claimed their first playoff victory, defeating SDSU’s C team by a score of 24-16. Emma Hanson and Lucy Slinger captured an early win in female doubles, with Ashley Rider picking up a win of her own in female singles. In male singles, Saarang Kashyap won via tiebreak, setting up a mixed doubles victory for Amber Cheun and Ryan Lee. In the semifinals, UCLA pulled off the convincing upset, toppling CSUF’s A team by a score of 28-11. Slinger secured a win once more in female doubles, this time with Cheun. James Heeter and Jenson Wong picked up their first victory of the day in male doubles as Kashyap secured his second with another win in male singles. Closing out the match, Ryan Lee and Hanson overcame their mixed doubles opponents in convincing fashion. As the night came to a close, UCLA faced off in the Bronze bracket final against SDSU’s B team. Making a strong push themselves, the Aztecs fought hard, but ultimately fell short. After all was said and done, the Bruins claimed their second title of the night, with an impressive victory in the finale.

As all eyes look to April, the pressure is on for the five SoCal universities that qualified for Nationals. Heading to Rome, Georgia in just a few months, the challenge remains to see if a National Championship can be brought back to Southern California for a second time in the last three years.


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