Round two of Baylor versus UCLA was reminiscent of the Bruins’ first matchup with the Bears from earlier this season.
This time around, instead of a midseason tussle, each team faced the looming possibility of having its season cut short by a very familiar and formidable foe.
Ultimately, the NCAA round of 16 battle in Palo Alto ended with Baylor defeating UCLA 4-3, ending the Bruins’ season in dramatic fashion.
The pressure of the moment did not phase either team, with both maintaining high-quality play throughout the match, which was filled with pressure-packed moments.
The Bruins, whose struggles in doubles have been well-documented throughout the year, played a spirited doubles point, but lost despite a strong win from the No. 3 tandem of freshman Daniel Kosakowski and senior Holden Seguso.
Baylor was able to take the doubles points behind wins from its top two teams. The tandem of John Peers and Roberto Maytin, the No. 5 pair in the nation, clinched the point for the Bears with a 9-7 victory over the Bruins’ top team of redshirt sophomore Alex Brigham and freshman Adrien Puget.
In singles play, the battles were even.
The Bears struck first behind a victory on court No. 3 from Jordan Rux over freshman Clay Thompson. This was quickly followed up by a stellar performance from Puget, who put the Bruins on the board with a 7-6, 6-2 win over Maytin.
In what was his final match as a Bruin, senior captain and second-team All-Pac-10 performer Amit Inbar gutted out a win over Baylor’s Sergio Ramirez to knot up the match at 2-2.
With three matches still on court and all in third sets, the match was very much up in the air. Dennis Lengsfeld brought Baylor within one point of winning with his 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 win over sophomore Maxime Tabatruong on court No. 6, but Kosakowski outlasted Peers on court No. 1, winning 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 to tie the match once again.
For the second straight match, UCLA’s fortunes were decided by Seguso on court No. 5. After giving the Bruins their match-winning point in a 4-3 win against Ole Miss in the second round on Saturday, Seguso found himself on the other end of a clincher, losing 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(8) to Kike Grangeiro in a match that awarded Baylor its fourth and final point.
While the Bears advance to the quarterfinals to take on Ohio State on Saturday, the Bruins will head home after ending a season that should instill optimism for the team’s future.
Kosakowski, Puget and Thompson will all return after making major contributions in their first seasons and should continue to do so in the years to come. Tabatruong will also return, giving the Bruins four returning players from this year’s group of six singles competitors.
The season is not quite over for Kosakowski, who will participate in the NCAA Individual Championships, which begin on Wednesday in Palo Alto. Inbar is a first alternate, and Puget and Brigham are fourth alternates for doubles.
Compiled by Rohan Popat and Vidur Malik, Bruin Sports senior staff.