Although the No. 9 Bruins defeated the No. 36 Cougars this weekend, coach Billy Martin made it clear he has higher expectations for the UCLA men’s tennis team. UCLA defeated BYU in a 6-1 non-conference victory at home Friday afternoon.
“I would give us probably a “˜B’ for today. I thought we looked pretty good,” Martin said.
“(There is) certainly room for improvement. I think every one of the guys would agree to that. There are certainly things for us to work on in everybody’s game.”
In their collegiate dual-match debuts, freshmen Marcos Giron and Dennis Mkrtchian both notched wins. Giron, who is ranked 86th nationally, defeated No. 106-ranked Patrick Kawka 7-5, 7-6(4) and Mkrtchian beat Michael Eraso 6-2, 6-0.
“I am happy with the way I played,” Giron said. “This is my first dual match that I’ve ever played, so I’m happy to get the “˜W.’”
Martin was very impressed with their effort, as he was not sure what the freshmen would bring to the court that day.
“I (didn’t) know what to expect, quite honestly,” Martin said.
“It’s our first match and (the) freshmen’s first time ever playing in a team event for us, so that’s what I like to see ““ how they are going to react.”
Redshirt senior Nick Meister, who was playing in his first dual match in nearly two years after an injury last season, dispatched No. 43-ranked opponent Georgy Batrakov 6-3, 6-3.
“Overall, I was really competitive and winning the points when I needed to, so that’s really encouraging,” said Meister. “Even if someone’s struggling, I’m still rising to the challenge, so I felt good about that.”
Junior Maxime Tabatruong and redshirt junior Alex Brigham also won their matches. Tabatruong defeated No. 67-ranked Keaton Cullimore 6-4, 6-2 and Brigham beat Francis Sargeant 7-6(5), 7-6(2).
The lone point for BYU came when Spencer Smith upset No. 72-ranked UCLA sophomore Clay Thompson 2-6, 6-3, (10-6).
“I thought I played all right, just kind of getting the first couple matches out of (my) system,” said Thompson about the loss.
“It’s kind of disappointing, but (our team) won so that’s all that matters.”
In doubles, the UCLA tandems of Meister and sophomore Adrian Puget, Brigham and Giron, and junior Warren Hardie and Thompson all defeated the BYU combinations of Batrakov and Kawka, Sargeant and Smith, and Cullimore and Eraso, respectively, by an identical score of 8-3.
“We all played really well in doubles and we took care of business so that was really exciting for us,” Thompson said.
Regardless of the victories, these double pairings may not stick, as Martin might make changes as the team gets a little deeper into the season.
“Sometimes I’m just not sure if I got the right pairings. They might look good in practice, and I might think the chemistry is going to be good and they match up, (but) they don’t,” Martin said.
“That’s what these first five to eight matches really help us with, is finding out if they are really the right teams for me to have out there.”