The Pepperdine Waves women’s tennis team nabbed their eighth straight West Coast Conference Tournament title on April 30 in Ojai.
The squad, ranked eighth nationally, won the two-day tournament in dominating fashion by beating San Diego 4-0 in the championship match.
Shiori Fukuda, the WCC Player of the Year, said winning the conference championship felt great.
“It always feels awesome to win the tournament,” she said.
Fukuda, a graduate student transfer from Tokyo, solidified the first-place WCC finish for Pepperdine by downing Solymar Colling on the top court 6-2, 6-1.
The Waves easily won in doubles play. Freshman Savannah Broadus and sophomore Janice Tjen were the first winners. They defeated their San Diego opponents 6-2 on court two. Then, sophomore Taisiya Pachkaleva and Fukuda claimed a 6-2 win. That sent Pepperdine into singles play with a 1-0 lead.
Broadus won first in singles also — 6-1, 2-0 — after her opponent retired on court five. Tjen then won her match 6-2, 6-2 on court two. Fukuda then sealed the victory with her win.
The Waves defeated San Francisco in the championship semifinals 4-0 to advance to the title match.
Fukuda, Broadus, and Tjen were named to the all-tournament team singles. The Broadus-Tjen and Fukuda-Pachkaleva pairs were named to the all-tournament team doubles
Pepperdine has now won 30 of the last 33 WCC Women’s Tennis Tournament titles.
Pepperdine will host first- and second-round matches of the NCAA Tournament at Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center this weekend. The Waves will face Denver in the first round on Friday.
Pepperdine advanced to the championship match last May before falling 4-3 to Texas. Pepperdine has a 20-6 record heading into the tournament, which includes a 10-1 record at home.
Fukuda said she can’t say for certain that the Waves are playing their best tennis right now because the group has room to grow.
“Anything could happen in college tennis, so some us feel great on one match but then some of us feel not so great,” she said. “It is really hard to have everyone feel unreal on the same day. But, we do a great job helping each other in practice so we will not feel down as a team.”
A couple of days before the start of the WCC Tournament, Fukuda was named the WCC Player of the Year. She said winning the honor wasn’t a goal.
“It feels great to be the WCC’s Player of the Year,” she said. “I have been focused on the matches, but there is only one player who gets to this award every year, so it means a lot to me.”
Fukuda had an 11-6 record in the dual season from the top spot and a 28-9 overall record. She captured the singles title at the Freeman Memorial Championship in January and has recorded six ranked wins.
Broadus was also named the WCC Freshman of the Year. She has gone 14-5 this duel season from the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth spots.
This is the second straight season Pepperdine had players named the conference’s best player and best freshman.
Junior Lisa Zaar and Tjen were named the conference’s first team in singles, and the pairings of graduate student Victoria Flores and Zaar, and Broadus and Tjen were named to the doubles first team. Broadus was named to the singles second team, and Flores and Pachkaleva were named to the singles honorable mention squad.
The NCAA Super Regionals are May 13 and the NCAA Championships are May 20-22 in Champaign, Illinois. The NCAA Singles/Doubles Championships are May 23-28, also in Champaign.
Fukuda said for Pepperdine to be successful in the tournament they have to keep working hard and take care of the little things.
“Since everyone is done with school, it is time to spend every day like a pro, which would include sleeping, diet, recovery, and all the stuff that we should be extra careful about outside of the tennis courts,” she said. “Also, we should treat practices like actual matches; like right attitude, body language every day. We only have limited time where we can practice before the NCAA, so we should not waste any time.”