The UCLA men’s tennis team looked like the underdogs coming into Monday’s match against Pepperdine.
But history has taught UCLA fans to never count the Bruins out, because they win when they’re least expected to.
That’s exactly what UCLA did on Monday in Malibu, as it chipped away at No. 6 Pepperdine’s best players to edge the Waves in a 4-3 victory.
“This was a huge test for us,” coach Billy Martin said.
The win didn’t come easily, as the Waves, who are known for their rowdy behavior, ran around the court during warm-ups screaming.
“It was pretty annoying,” senior Holden Seguso said. “We all expected it, though. I’ve played them four years in a row now, and the freshmen handled it really well too.”
The doubles point came down to court No. 1, as freshman Adrien Puget and redshirt sophomore Alex Brigham battled to win against No. 33 Hugh Clarke and Finn Tearney to give UCLA the early advantage.
“It was the most exciting doubles match I’ve ever played,” Puget said. “It was so important for us mentally because we know they are a top-10 team and really good in singles.”
Elsewhere, freshman Daniel Kosakowski and Seguso pulled out an 8-5 win on court No. 3, while senior Amit Inbar and sophomore Warren Hardie got blasted 8-2 on court No. 2 by No. 54 Sebastian Fanselow and Jensen Turner.
“Momentum-wise, it was big,” Martin said of the doubles win.
After UCLA eventually won the doubles point, freshman Clay Thompson etched out an early win in singles against No. 62 Alex Llompart to cushion the Bruins’ lead.
In the featured match of the day, Kosakowski battled against one of the Waves’ best in Tearney.
Inbar also fought against a tough opponent in Fanselow, ranked No. 22 in singles. Inbar rallied hard but dropped straight sets to Fanselow.
The tightest match of the day sealed the deal for the Bruins as Seguso rallied in three sets to defeat David Sofaer.
Seguso won his first set 6-3, then lost 5-7 before bouncing back to win the third set 6-2.
“I just lost it a little mentally in the second set,” Seguso said. “I got into my stride during the third set and went on a hot streak.”
The last time these two teams met, UCLA edged out a 4-3 win over the Waves, but Pepperdine was ranked No. 27 at the time and the Bruins were in the top 10.
“We hadn’t been playing up to par, so getting a win against a top-10 team was big,” Seguso said. “This win brought the team closer together. The energy and vibe around the team had been a little low, so this gives us confidence going into regionals.”