Behind the Score:
Consecutive wins for UCLA
USC's win streak, snapped by UCLA
UCLA's seed in the Pac-12 Tournament
On Friday, UCLA beat the best college tennis team in the land, and there wasn’t pandemonium.
Someone snapped a team picture on an iPhone, and everyone smiled, but the celebration for winning the Pac-12 title, and snapping USC’s 45-match winning streak was tempered.
“It’s important to beat (USC), but this is not the defining match,” freshman Marcos Giron said. “If they end up winning the NCAAs again no one’s going to remember that we beat them in the final. There is a bigger prize on the line.”
Giron was one of three Bruins to win matches after the team had gone down 3-1 to the No. 1 Trojans.
Fellow freshman Dennis Mkrtchian also won a match in a do or die situation. After losing his first set 4-6, Mkrtchian rallied to win the next two sets comfortably.
“It was a must win for me and that helped me play better,” Mkrtchian said.
The freshman felt that much about the team had changed since suffering a 6-1 loss to their South Central nemesis in February.
“A lot of it is mental. We all have a lot more self-confidence. Every single one of us knew we could win our match,” Mkrtchain said.
But that confidence hasn’t morphed into complacency.
“One win is great, but I want the guys to believe they can do it again, and be ready to do that,” coach Billy Martin said.
The Bruins are likely to face the Trojans again in the conference tournament, which starts this Wednesday in Ojai. The two teams could also face off again in the nationals in Athens, Ga.
“There’s definitely no self-satisfaction like we’ve even come close to reaching our ultimate goal,” Martin said.
UCLA’s win on Friday proved that they are a championship-caliber team.
But for people to care, they’ll have to do it in Athens.