Women’s Tennis Wins NCAA Championship

Photo of  Astra Sharma
Freshman Astra Sharma’s win put Vanderbilt women’s tennis over the top for its first NCAA championship. She was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and shared top honors for Vanderbilt’s Female Athlete of the Year. (BRENDAN MALONEY)

The Vanderbilt women’s tennis team claimed its first-ever national title by defeating UCLA 4–2 in the NCAA Championship match May 19. The victory marked only the third time in school history that Vanderbilt has won an NCAA national championship. (Bowling won one in 2007, and baseball in 2014.)

The fourth-seeded Commodores earned a trip to their third-ever Final Four by beating Florida 4–3. It was the third win this season against the Gators, who previously had boasted a 45–2 all-time record against Vanderbilt. In the semifinals the Commodores then topped No. 1 seed USC 4–0, earning the team its first appearance in an NCAA title match since 2001—and a date with defending national champion UCLA.

“The seniors on that team have been to four straight Final Fours,” said Head Coach Geoff Macdonald about the UCLA Bruins. “We were in new water. I have to say, hats off to my team for handling an incredibly large moment with class, guts and great spirit. It’s a dream come true—such an elusive, difficult thing to accomplish.”

Macdonald, the 2015 SEC Coach of the Year, just completed his 21st season at Vanderbilt. During that time he has amassed 422 career wins and guided the program to all of its postseason appearances. In the previous 17 years of the program’s existence, the Commodores won just 166 matches.

In addition to a national title, the team claimed its first-ever SEC tournament title this season, and several individual players were honored, including senior Ashleigh Antal and redshirt freshman Astra Sharma. Both were named All Americans, and Sharma was the 2015 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

Watch the final moments of the championship match: