The rivalry between the Bruins and the Cardinal never gets old.
It will be even more significant for this year’s UCLA men’s tennis team, which looks to make a strong statement against Stanford on Friday at the Los Angeles Tennis Center after suffering its first loss of the season against No. 3 Tennessee in the USTA/ITA National Team Indoors on Saturday.
A strong statement may be hard to come by since these teams know each other all too well.
“We were both watching each other at the Indoors last weekend,” coach Billy Martin said of Stanford, which lost in the finals to No. 16 Georgia. “There’s not a lot of hiding.”
Last year’s UCLA-Stanford drama only adds to the Pac-10 tradition between these two tennis teams.
After a rain delay postponed the inevitable Pac-10 face-off, Stanford handed UCLA a 4-3 loss last April. The Bruins bounced back, clinching a narrow victory against the Cardinal in the NCAA round of 16.
“The last six matches have all come down to the last match, third set,” Martin said. “We’ve won some, they’ve won some, so I always expect a great match when we play because the players have a lot of pride.”
No. 8 Stanford (8-2) boasts last year’s NCAA Singles champion in junior Bradley Klahn, who finished the 2010 season with a singles ranking of No. 4.
Other ranked Cardinal players senior Alex Clayton and junior Ryan Thacher have caused problems for the Bruins in previous years.
Still, redshirt sophomore Alex Brigham has faith in his team.
“Amit and I have been playing well together,” Brigham said of his new doubles partner senior Amir Inbar.
“Klahn and Clayton are great players, but Clayton hasn’t been playing as well this year, especially at (the Sherwood Cup in January).
“I think it will be a much stronger match than last year,” he added.
Brigham also spoke highly of teammate freshman Daniel Kosakowski, who will face off against Klahn tomorrow.
In practice, Kosakowski was calm and focused despite never facing Klahn before.
“I’ve never played him, so I’ve got a scouting report, and we’ll just have to see how it plays out,” Kosakowski said.
UCLA will also look to the bottom of its lineup to step up.
After facing Stanford, UCLA’s schedule won’t get easy anytime soon.
The team will compete against Pac-10 rival Cal on Saturday, before facing Washington, Arizona and USC.
The No. 20 Bears (4-3) lost to the Cardinal on Feb. 12, but are coming off a 7-0 win over UC Santa Barbara on Sunday.
Before getting into the heart of conference play, UCLA is focused on the school that rivals it across the board.
“We’re natural rivals in tennis, basketball, football, any sport,” Brigham said of Stanford.
“It’s tradition and that’s something we strive for.”
Meister Hitting Again
UCLA had a reason to celebrate when senior Nick Meister hit at practice on Wednesday for the first time all year. Meister has been out this season with a hip injury.