SANTA CLARA, Calif. – (Urbana, Illinois) – After winning the school's first-ever individual match at the NCAA Singles Championships on Wednesday, Santa Clara junior No. 26 Katie Le battled hard, but fell in the second round to the No. 3 seed Robin Anderson of No. 7 UCLA, 7-6(1), 6-2 in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.
Le ends the season with a 22-13 overall singles record and her most successful NCAA finish yet. With a ranking in the ITA top-5 for the majority of her season, sophomore Anderson advances to the round of 16 and will face No. 11 Mary Weatherholt of No. 16 Nebraska. She is also competing in the doubles Championship in addition to UCLA making it to the team semifinals on May 20.
"Going into the second round, I think Katie was just really excited to play one of the top seeds in the tournament," said Bronco head coach Ben Cabell. "She believed she could win but knew it would be a tough match. I think getting her first NCAA victory under her belt and knowing that she had a shot at one of the best players in the country helped with her confidence a lot."
Falling in three sets in the first round of the NCAA Singles Championships last year, Le was confident after her first NCAA victory over No. 30 Emina Bektas yesterday. "Getting my first NCAA win was a great feeling," said Le. "After looking at the draw later that day and seeing many of the top seeds had lost, I knew every player here was good but beatable also. I knew I needed to play well to beat Anderson."
Right from the beginning of the match, Anderson broke Le to go up 3-1 in the first set. With a powerful serve from the 5 foot 3 inch Bruin, Le went down 5-2. Le turned it around to win four games in a row, breaking her opponents serve twice, and took the lead for the first time at 6-5. With two set points in Le's favor, Anderson sent the game to deuce two times and ultimately tied the first set back up 6-6.
"I turned it around in the first set by playing more aggressive and forward," said Le after the match. "I made a lot of good volleys and my shots went in."
In the first set tiebreaker, Le could only convert one point. The No. 3 seed Anderson won the tiebreaker 7-1 and took the first set 7-6. "She just played really well, stayed focused, and didn't give me anything," Le said. "It was really tough losing that tiebreaker. I tried to put it behind me, but she came out even stronger than before."
"After being down in the first set and turning it the around, I told her to just stay aggressive in the second set," said Cabell. "Anderson played very well in the tiebreak, and it came down to executing the big points."
The second set was even at 2-2 after an exchange of service breaks from each player. Anderson pulled away to go up 4-2 and eventually solidified a second round victory on her serve, taking the match by a final score of 7-6(1), 6-2.
"The early wake up call was not ideal," said Le. "But it's always encouraging to see all the text messages from my teammates and supporters. Win or lose, I can always count on the support from my team. Next year, I hope to do a lot better and finish my senior season with more wins at NCAAs and a higher ranking."
"I'm really proud of Katie and everyone on the team," said Cabell, the 2013 WCC Coach of the Year. "It was a great overall experience at the NCAA Championships and season at Santa Clara this year. It's never fun to lose the last match, but overall I'm really proud of Katie and all that she has accomplished in her junior season. I'm excited for next year!"
"I got here (round of 16) last year, so hopefully I can do better. I was up 5-2 in the first set, and I kind of got tight and hit balls short, and she started ripping the ball and made fewer errors. In the second set, I stayed solid, and when I got up, I just tried to maintain my game and not get so tight," said Anderson.
FINAL GAME NOTES – Second Round of NCAA Singles Championships - May 23, 2013
#3 Robin Anderson (UCLA) def. #26 Katie Le (SCU), 7-6(1), 6-2