The UCLA men’s tennis team traveled to Virginia this weekend with high hopes of returning with the ITA National Team Indoor Championship trophy.
However, they were unable to advance past the first round as they lost to No. 10 Duke in a 4-2 defeat.
“It’s very disappointing coming here hoping that we will do well then losing in the first round,” freshman Marcos Giron said.
“Obviously Duke is a very good team. It’s definitely tough and discouraging, but I think it was closer than what the score said.”
Crosstown rival No. 1 USC ended up taking home the trophy, defeating No. 3 Ohio State 4-3 in the finals.
Against Duke, UCLA took the doubles point with all three matches coming down to the wire.
Redshirt junior Alex Brigham and Giron defeated Chris Mengel and David Holland 9-8, while junior Warren Hardie and sophomore Clay Thompson lost 9-8 to Torsten Wietoska and Raphael Hemmeler. Redshirt senior Nick Meister and sophomore Adrien Puget won 9-8 against Henrique Cunha and Fred Saba to secure the point.
“I think the highlight of (Friday) was we played very good doubles up and down the line,” coach Billy Martin said. “I was really, really happy about that.”
In singles, Puget gave the Bruins an early 2-0 lead by defeating Saba, 6-4, 6-3.
They would not win another match as the Blue Devils took the next four to clinch the victory.
“I think any loss is disappointing,” Martin said. “I know this was going to be a really tough battle for us. It’s a very, very good team. I knew that the first match is always the most uncomfortable, trying to get used the indoor courts, the speed, the lighting and everything else. We played a good match, we just came up short.”
This was the Bruins’ only appearance on an indoor court for the year and it definitely affected how they played.
“It was a huge difference. The ball travels a lot faster,” Thompson said. “The fact we trained all year outdoors, while they practically trained all year indoors is a huge difference, it’s a huge advantage for them. It’s just like playing on any other surface really, it’s a whole different game.”
In the consolation round on Saturday, UCLA was pitted against No. 20 Tennessee. The Bruins posted a 4-0 shutout to rebound from their loss to Duke.
On Sunday, the Bruins played another consolation match against Pac-12 rival No. 13 Cal. The match came down to a tiebreaker, but UCLA was able to prevail and take a 4-3 win.
Unlike the past two days, the Bruins were unable to win the doubles point as Brigham and Giron lost 8-3 to Carlos Cueto and Ben McLachlin, while Hardie and Thompson were defeated 8-5 by Riki McLachlin and Andrew Scholnick. Meister and Puget did not finish their match after the Bears won the point.
Three straight victories by the Bruins gave them a 3-1 lead.
Thompson and Cueto had split the first two sets, 7-5 and 6-3, respectively before going to a tiebreaker in the last set.
The score was 5-5 in the tiebreaker when Cueto called a shot out, but was overruled by the chair umpire. This made the score 6-5 for Thompson, and since it was Cueto’s third overrule of the match Thompson was awarded another point, which happened to be match point.
This gave Thompson a 7-5 victory in the tiebreaker and the Bruins a 4-3 victory over Cal.
The Bruins return home with a 10-1 record to take on Saint Mary’s this upcoming Saturday at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.