Monday, April 22

M. tennis hoping to escape from weather in … Seattle?


M. tennis hoping to escape from weather in … Seattle?

Bruins gear up for winter season at Pacific-10 meet

By Chris Isidro

Don’t tell anyone at the home office, but for the UCLA men’s
tennis team, the Pacific-10 Indoor Tennis Championships in Seattle
will merely be a tune-up tournament.

Boasting seven teams among the top 50 in the country, the Pac-10
ranks right up there with the best in college tennis. The Bruins,
however, slowed by their long layoff and hampered by the rainstorms
this week, just hope to get untracked this weekend to get ready for
their winter docket of matches.

"To be honest, I think it’s just a good warm-up for our guys,"
head coach Billy Martin said of the festivities beginning today.
"I’m not expecting much, especially what we’ve gone through the
last few days not really being able to play and they’re not going
to be playing their best tennis."

Leading the UCLA contingent, Robert Janecek will look to break
out of an early season slump. The second-ranked player in the
preseason polls, a mediocre fall season ­ in which he failed
to reach a tournament final ­ dropped Janecek to No. 22.

The probable No. 2 starter this season, Eric Taino, dropped out
of the top 100 in the latest polls but basked in the glow of his
recent performance at the Palm Springs Invitational. With one of
the best backhands in the collegiate ranks, Taino could sneak up on
the talented field.

For the rest of the Bruins entered this weekend, the Pac-10
Indoors will be an opportunity to move up in the singles
ladder.

"I certainly will start Janecek at one and Taino at two, but
after that it’s all up in the air," Martin said.

Freshman Matthew Breen makes his debut in Seattle and will
attempt to stake his claim to a spot in the lineup along with Eric
Lin, Heath Montgomer, and Loren Peters. Montgomery, although not
entered last week at Palm Springs, enjoyed a solid Christmas
winning the Fiesta Bowl tourney in Phoenix and reaching the fourth
round of the Milwaukee Classic.

"Heath was probably the guy who played the most tennis and did
pretty darn well in the tournaments that he played," Martin
said.

The bracket this weekend looks to be a minefield, including No.
2 Sargis Sargsian of Arizona State, No. 6 Jeff Salzenstein from
Stanford and USC’s Brett Hansen who is undefeated this season
against UCLA. But while winning would be nice, the tourney will at
least give them a taste of the hurdles the Bruins will encounter en
route to Athens, Georgia for the NCAAs.

"I think it would be great if we get off to a good start,"
Martin said. "But I’ve had great starts and lousy finishes so to
me, I don’t think it’s crucial."

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