This tournament was staged for greatness. We sent two teams, UC San Diego-A and UC San Diego-B, to compete in the UCLA Fall Tournament. Coming off from a 3rd – 4th place finish a couple weeks ago at SDSU, we knew we could compete at the top level against the top teams. In day one of round robin play, UC San Diego-A faced Cal-Poly SLO-A, USC-B, and UCR-B. We knew that to make it into gold draw, we needed to start off strong against one of the best teams in SoCal, Cal-Poly SLO. After two big doubles wins, the Tritons led 12-7 against the Mustangs going into singles. In her first round of singles, ex-varsity Paula Chou won in a dominating fashion 6-1. Going into the last set of mixed doubles, we had a huge lead of 9 games. Unfortunately, our over-confidence got the best of us as we threw away the lead and ended up losing in super tiebreaker, resulting in our defeat 22-23. After the upsetting defeat, we had to bounce back to fight against the second team of USC. It was a long enduring battle and the Tritons only led 4 games going into mixed against the Trojans. Thankfully, Captain Kyle Vo and freshman Smita Sabada crushed the mixed in a quick and decisive 6-2 victory and a final score line of 24-16. To end the first day, UC San Diego-A defeated UCR-B, 30-8 on a huge momentum win (6-5) by men’s doubles pair, Ryan Lee and Justin Yang.
The A team went into the second day as the 4th seed in gold draw of the 8 team bracket, having to go up against UCLA-B. It started with a huge victory by the still undefeated doubles pair of Ariel Lee and Qing “Vivian” Wen. The singles pushed the gap from a two game advantage to a nine game advantage as Captain Erik Wu closes out the men’s singles in a strong 6-3 finish. History did not repeat itself this time, as the mixed closed out the nine game advantage in the second game of overtime leading to the Tritons victory of 25-19. In the semi-finals, the Tritons had to go up against the top team of Southern California, UCLA-A, whom placed 4th in nationals last year. We were huge underdogs going into the match, but we proved to be a challenge. Kyle Vo and Ryan Lee won against the extremely strong UCLA men’s doubles pair on sudden death point, 6-5 (5-4). A lot of ground still had to be made up as the team approached singles down five games. Still undefeated in women’s singles in her first tournament, MVP Paula Chou defeated one of the strongest girl’s singles players 6-4. To end our strong run and placing us 3-4th in the tournament, mixed pair Paulan (Paula Chou and Ryan Lee) won mixed 6-4, but failed to catch back up in games ending the score at 19-26 against the future champions of the tournament.
In the group stage, UC San Diego-B played UCSB-A, SDSU-A, and UCLA-B, and while we ended up going 1-2, they were all hotly contested. In particular, the girls did extremely well throughout the entire tournament, while the boys took a bit longer to get settled, but everyone was firing on all cylinders come elimination bracket. Kristen Thorne and Mikaela McNally won 4 out of 5 doubles matches throughout the entire tournament, and combined with a huge performance by Steffi del Rosario in singles, gave the team a 12-0 lead against UCSB-A. Unfortunately, our talented freshman Michael White was battling some physical issues on top of playing stellar competition from SDSU-A and UCSB-A when he had to be subbed out for Anurag Coramulta, who came through with two clutch wins against USC-B and UCLA-C in the Silver Bracket. Allen Gao, another superb freshman, teamed up with Charlie Tamer to crack 9 aces between the two of them in their thrilling 6-4 victory against USC-B. In mixed doubles, Brian Bliss and Josephine Kozlowski had the most exciting match of the tournament against UCLA-C in the Silver Bracket quarter-finals, winning their set 6-4 securing a 21-20 win sending the team into the semi-finals. Our B team had a bit of a rough time during group stage but displayed tremendous resilience and really found themselves when it mattered and ended up tying for 1st place in the Silver Bracket. Overall, the team is finally settling in as a top 4 team in Southern California, and with a little practice it doesn’t seem too far to say that we can place top four at regionals and guarantee our spot at the 2016 Nationals held in Cary, North Carolina.