All of the hard work has led to this.
The injuries, setbacks and team rebuilding were all preparation for this ““ the 2011 NCAA Tennis Championships.
This is where college tennis teams prove their worth.
Friday, the UCLA men’s tennis team will try to do just that.
“This is do or die,” said coach Billy Martin. “There’s no tomorrow if we lose.”
The No. 12″“seeded Bruins (16-6) will face off against the America East champion, Binghamton, on Friday.
“We’re expected to win so there’s a lot of pressure on us, but it’s exciting because we have a goal,” senior Holden Seguso said.
For Seguso and fellow senior Amit Inbar, this could be the last weekend of college tennis play.
“It definitely feels different from the last three years,” Seguso said. “If we lose at this point, I’ll be finished with my college career. It feels weird.”
UCLA ended the regular season with a disheartening loss to fierce rival USC on its home turf, but the team says the loss gave it confidence rather than shaking its resolve.
“We know we have a good shot, if we’re in that position, that we can come away with a victory,” said freshman Clay Thompson, when asked how the loss affected his team.
“To come that close to winning lets us know that we have the ability to do it next time,” Martin added.
The Bruins are favored in Friday’s match, but the Bearcats (12-13) have a weapon in the No. 77 player in singles, Sven Vloedgraven.
Vloedgraven, a native of the Netherlands, boasts a 72-45 career record in singles and will likely look to end his college career strongly.
Despite this, Seguso remains confident in his team’s ability.
“It’s a good warm up match,” he said.
Should the Bruins defeat the Bearcats, they will play the winner of Ole Miss vs. UC Irvine on Saturday.
“The second round will be a tough match,” Martin said. “We had a tough match against Irvine and we’ve never played Mississippi but I know they’re good.”
If UCLA advances through regional play, it earns a trip to Stanford University to compete in the NCAA Round of 16 from May 19 to 24.
All things considered, UCLA fans can expect maximum effort from the team come Friday.
“If we lose,” Seguso said, “I want to go down knowing I put all the effort I could into it.”