Going into this season, UCLA men’s tennis coach Billy Martin stressed that his team would require a strong collective effort for every match to come out successful.
He challenged his young team to come out and fight for the doubles point, which would set the tone for strong results in singles and the overall match.
And respond his players did, as No. 6 UCLA simply overwhelmed No. 38 Brigham Young in a 7-0 victory Friday at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.
The Bruins started out fast, dominating all three doubles matches.
The doubles point saw three freshmen making a significant contribution, something Martin envisioned would be necessary throughout the year.
At the third doubles spot, it was the freshman duo of Daniel Kosakowski and Clay Thompson that thoroughly dominated their respective opponents en route to an 8-3 victory.
Not to be forgotten, freshman Adrien Puget also put up an impressive performance, partnering with senior Amit Inbar at the No. 1 position.
“I’m so happy for him,” Inbar said of Puget. “He’s a very good player who came to the U.S. only three weeks ago, so in the beginning I was trying to talk to him and help him out. But I think he performed really well out there.”
Inbar and Puget were involved in a battle with the top BYU duo of senior Thomas Shubert and sophomore Spencer Smith, who are No. 44 in the nation.
But after securing a key break of serve at 3-3, Inbar and Puget quickly ran away with the set, securing an easy 8-3 victory.
In singles, the Bruins faced more resistance than they had in the doubles.
While Kosakowski cruised to an easy 6-2, 6-3 victory on court one, several of the other matches were tightly contested.
The greatest drama on Friday came from Courts No. 2 and 3 during singles play.
Inbar faced a tough opponent in Evan Urbina, No. 110 in the nation, and was down after Urbina won the first set, 6-4.
But Inbar quickly regrouped and won the second set 7-5, propelling him to an easy third-set victory.
“For me personally, I came out a little bit stiff, but I am happy I showed a lot of character and things fell into place,” Inbar said. “The momentum changed, and I felt confident that I could win in three sets.”
On Court No. 3, UCLA sophomore Maxime Tabatruong was in quite a battle, splitting the first two sets before steamrolling BYU’s Smith for a 6-0 victory in the third set.
“I made (Smith) really earn the second set, so even though I lost it, I was really confident going into the third set,” Tabatruong said. “He was dying out there, so I just tried to make him earn every point.”
With an overwhelming opening-match victory, Martin was happy and relieved.
“I have never been so worried about a season opener as I was (Friday),” Martin said. “Quite honestly, I did not know what to expect, and the guys showed me a lot. I think we are getting better every day, and they showed me a hell of a lot of determination and fight.”