UCLA's return to earlier form was ever so brief, lasting just one match at the NCAA women's tennis championships.
Just as it did against USC in the opening round, Stanford wasted no time in defeating the Bruins, 5-1, in Friday's quarterfinals at the L.A. Tennis Center.
Even Thursday, after an 8-1 victory over Kentucky, UCLA Coach Bill Zaima sensed there was trouble ahead.
"We're back," he said. "It's too bad we have to play Stanford."
Zaima was smiling at the time. Despite knowing that the Cardinal had handed USC a 9-0 loss, there was some reason to think the Bruins might be able to beat Stanford. After all, UCLA had defeated the Cardinal, 5-4, at Palo Alto in the midst of the Bruins' 20-match winning streak.
However, after that victory, UCLA started to self-destruct, losing six of its last seven matches. Five of the defeats were by 5-4, including one to Stanford at UCLA.
With the strong showing against Kentucky, Zaima never thought the Cardinal would clinch after the singles competition. On the other hand, Stanford Coach Frank Brennan felt it was possible.
"Well, it is your dream when you wake up in the morning, to get it done fast," he said. "I didn't see us winning five or six (singles matches). I thought it would be 4-2 going into the doubles."
It could have easily happened. Patty Fendick and Leigh Anne Eldredge were the only Stanford players to win in straight sets. Then, at No. 3 singles, Lisa Green lost, 7-6, 6-4, to UCLA's Jennifer Fuchs. The other three singles matches went three sets: Stephanie Savides beat Joni Urban, 5-7, 6-0, 6-1, at No. 2; Kay Tittle defeated Allyson Cooper, 6-2, 6-7, 6-2, at No. 4; and Eleni Rossides beat Catherine O'Meara, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2, at No. 5.
"I think this was the match right here," said Zaima, pointing to the court where Rossides and O'Meara played their match. "Someone had to keep one more ball in the court. It was Stanford's idea to keep the ball in play and attack if they were behind.
"I think Stanford is the best team here. They have the depth and they can play at five and six singles."
Brennan wasn't ready to claim Stanford's second straight NCAA title just yet. At least not before today's semifinal against undefeated and No. 1 seeded Florida.
"I don't really know what they looked like today," Brennan said of the Gators. "I don't know a lot of their names. But I do know they've had an awesome season and they've played really well."
NCAA Tennis Notes No. 3-seeded California's 5-4 loss to No. 11 SMU was the biggest surprise Friday. SMU's No. 2 doubles team of Jennifer Santrock and Jean Marie Sterling defeated Alissa Finerman and Tiffiny Silveria, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, in the deciding match. "We may have hurt their chances by losing to them two times," Stanford Coach Frank Brennan said of Cal. "Not that they were overconfident, but they might have looked past this match because they felt really good about their chances. We might be a bit to blame for that." . . . No. 1 Florida had little trouble in its match with No. 9 Northwestern, winning 5-1. Georgia, seeded No. 15, continued to show that its victory over No. 2 Miami on Thursday was no fluke. The Bulldogs defeated No. 7 Trinity, 5-4, Friday. . . . SMU meets Georgia at noon in today's semifinals, followed by Florida and Stanford at 4.