Coming off of a galvanizing win against Florida State, the UCLA men’s tennis team was faced with an unexpected and tense contest on Tuesday against the UC Irvine Anteaters.
Following a shocking loss in the doubles point, the Bruins found themselves in an unfamiliar position: trailing 1-0.
They were challenged by coach Billy Martin, who was upset over the relatively flat start by the Bruins in the doubles point. They stood up and answered his call.
“I told them it was going to be a real character tester,” Martin said. “Fortunately our losing the doubles point didn’t deter us. I felt that we came out in singles and really gave it 100 percent.”
The Anteaters were inspired and had every intention of stealing a victory. Led by Chris Kearney, a former star at the University of North Carolina currently ranked No. 33 in the nation, UC Irvine gave the Bruins all they could handle. Kearney matched up with freshmen Daniel Kosakowski and was able to defeat the Bruins’ young No. 1 player in a tight 7-6, 6-3 contest.
“Their guy at No. 1 is probably as good as any guy in the country,” Martin said. “I’m very proud of Daniel. He played very high- quality tennis. It was a great match.”
The Bruins received standout performances from No. 2 Amit Inbar, No. 4 Clay Thompson and No. 6 Alex Brigham. Their three match victories put the No. 6 Bruins in a deadlock with the No. 52 Anteaters at 3-3 with one match still on court.
Sophomore No. 3 Maxime Tabatruong had fallen behind in the first set but stormed back to take a three-set victory against UC Irvine’s Sam Gould and keep the Bruins unbeaten.
While Martin was relieved to have won the match, he remains cautious regarding the forecast for upcoming matches.
“We have to come out with that intensity every time”, Martin said. “Still it was a good win, and we gave it a really good fight.”
Compiled by Rohan Popat, Bruin Sports contributor