When it comes to building a championship contender, it is not always about having the best talent, but about having the best team chemistry.
Fortunately for the UCLA men’s tennis team, they have some of both.
“It’s really been a great season so far,” sophomore Clay Thompson said. “We’re all really excited, and I think the team chemistry is one of the biggest things.”
“We’re all so proud to be a part of this team right now. Just coming back from the NorCal trip, you could sense how close the guys were together. That was something I didn’t really see here my freshman year, so I think that’s really a good sign for us.”
With the USTA/ITA National Team Indoors just around the corner, the undefeated No. 8 UCLA men’s tennis team will seek to continue its winning streak against No. 12 Pepperdine on Tuesday afternoon.
The Bruins, who are coming off a 7-0 shutout of San Diego State University, are preparing themselves for a tough match against a dangerous Pepperdine team.
“(We’ve got to) be mentally ready for a tough grind, they’re a really physical team,” redshirt senior Nick Meister said. “They always come out with a lot of energy, and our guys just need to be prepared for that kind of atmosphere.”
In addition to the chemistry, Thompson knows that the team is going to have to bring their best effort against the Waves, because Pepperdine will be going all-out.
“We’re just going to have to be really fired up against Pepperdine,” Thompson said. “That’s a team that also plays with a lot of emotion, and we’re going to have to match them on that, so it’s going to be tough.”
The team’s young freshmen, Marcos Giron and Dennis Mkrtchian, are soaring in confidence after strong starts to the season.
This is especially important for Giron, who is coming off a broken wrist from last quarter.
“Coming back from a wrist injury from last quarter, and now just winning every match really means a lot (for my confidence),” Giron said.
Mkrtchian, meanwhile, has yet to lose a dual match this season.
“I’m feeling really good out there right now, the best I’ve been feeling ever,” Mkrtchian said. “I haven’t lost a match yet in the dual season, so it’s a lot of confidence for sure, and I feel great out there.”
Coach Billy Martin said he believes that his team will rise to the challenge against Pepperdine.
“They rose to the challenge up there at Cal (and) Stanford and really liked it and looked forward to it. We’re not fearful of the challenge. We could lose, easily, on Tuesday, but we want to have a chance to win,” Martin said.
“I think we got a really good bunch of competitive kids on our team. I think our guys love the challenges and love those matches. I think we have a chance to win and if we’re playing well and get a little luck, we could win that match.”
No matter the outcome on Tuesday, this team will support each other to the very end, which could lead to them having success when it really matters most.