The UCLA men’s tennis team carried its momentum from last week’s win over BYU into Tuesday’s match as it swept non-conference opponent UC Irvine 7-0 at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.
In a fashion similar to the match against the Cougars, the Bruins won the doubles point to go on the board with a 1-0 lead over the Anteaters.
But unlike last week’s easy win, the Bruins faced some competition on court three from an experienced duo of juniors Sam Gould and Jon Kazarian who beat the combination of UCLA junior Warren Hardie and sophomore Clay Thompson 8-6.
“I thought one and two played really well. I was very happy with that. Number three probably not as sharp as the other day. Doubles is funny: You don’t get off to a great start, you can lose confidence quick. You really need to get off to a good start,” coach Billy Martin said.
Although he missed singles action last week, No. 94-ranked sophomore Adrien Puget gave the Bruins a quick 2-0 lead after defeating Irvine’s Kazarian 6-1, 6-4.
“I did a pretty good job. I did my job as a tennis player to win in two sets being serious and professional and trying to improve my game, so it was good,” Puget said.
No. 86 freshman Marcos Giron also stepped up for UCLA against UC Irvine, beating his opponent in straight sets 6-2, 6-2.
“I played very well. I took care of business by breaking early in the first serve. I felt pretty comfortable the whole entire match. I didn’t feel too much pressure,” Giron said.
After two convincing victories, Giron believes that being the inexperienced player on this squad does not add pressure to play up to expectations.
“I do not really feel that much pressure; obviously I want to do well, I want to win, but I feel very comfortable. And it is nice to be playing top three. Hopefully, I’ll move up,” Giron said.
Someone who did not have it as easy was redshirt senior Nick Meister, who was able to fight off a couple of match points before getting the victory over UC Irvine senior Fabian Matthews 4-6, 6-3, 1-0.
“(The match was) I guess a little bit up-and-down, I mean, there were some early breaks in the first set. And then when it came down to the first set, he played better. Fortunately, I was able to get to a good start in the second set,” Meister said.
Knowing that UC Irvine is probably not the strongest team UCLA will play all season, Martin says he thinks the team can learn a lot from this match.
“It is certainly a good test for us, especially with the two really tough matches coming up this weekend. We have two really good tests coming up in the weekend, much better teams than the ones we have played already,” he said.
With this win, the Bruins proved that, in spite of losing three of their top players from last year, they can be contenders for the rest of the season as the team goes on with the ultimate goal of competing for the NCAA title in May.