If this weekend’s matches were going to serve as a telling moment in the UCLA men’s tennis team’s season, they told the story of a young team coming up short.
The contests also revisited an issue that has plagued the Bruins all season: their inability to win in doubles. This once again placed them in an early hole in both of their matches, a 4-3 loss to California on Friday and a 6-1 loss to Stanford on Saturday.
The doubles point against Cal was as close as could be, with all three matches going to tiebreakers. No. 13 UCLA (11-5, 0-2 Pac-10) was able to pull out a victory at court No. 2 with the tandem of senior Amit Inbar and sophomore Warren Hardle, but it was not enough, as UCLA soon lost at courts No. 1 and 3 to lose the first point of the match.
After suffering quick singles losses at courts No. 2 and 5, UCLA got on the board with a win from sophomore Maxime Tabatruong, who defeated Cal freshman Ben McLachlan 6-2, 6-3. Unfortunately, the match soon ended behind a Cal victory from senior Bozhidar Katsarov, who was victorious over UCLA redshirt sophomore Alex Brigham by a score of 6-2, 6-2.
The lone highlight of the day for the Bruins came shortly after the match was in hand for the No. 12 Bears (9-5, 1-1), when freshman Daniel Kosakowski upset Cal senior Pedro Zerbini, currently ranked No. 15 in the nation.
Hoping to rebound on Saturday, the Bruins traveled to Palo Alto to take on the Cardinal but got off to a rough start when they once again lost a tight doubles point.
Facing a 1-0 deficit and a very tough Stanford singles lineup led by juniors Bradley Klahn and Ryan Thacher, the match quickly unraveled for UCLA.
Stanford’s No. 3 player Alex Clayton, ranked No. 93 in the nation, quickly dispatched freshman Clay Thompson 6-2, 6-1, to give Stanford a 2-0 lead.
Freshman Adrien Puget got the Bruins on the board with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over sophomore Denis Lin, but it was quickly overshadowed by victories from Stanford’s sophomore Matthew Kandath (over Hardie) and Thacher (over Inbar).
These two matches were meant to provide a barometer for UCLA to see where it stacked up against the elite teams in the Pac-10, and from this weekend’s poor results it is evident that the young squad has plenty of room for improvement.
It will need to happen quickly should UCLA want to climb back up the ladder in the Pac-10 and make a run at a conference championship.
Compiled by Rohan Popat, Bruin Sports contributor.