UCLA’s Nick Meister and Adrien Puget will compete in the NCAA men’s singles tournament starting today in Athens, Ga.
The two players are fresh off a run to Final Four in team play and will now play for individual advancement.
Meister is looking forward to the opportunity, but the disappointment from failing to complete his senior goal of winning an NCAA championship remains.
“You know, he’s visibly upset and not on top of the world right now,” coach Billy Martin said about Meister. “I’ve just tried to give him a little space. I think once he gets into the tournament and realizes life goes on, you know I think he’ll be fine.”
Meister lost to USC’s No. 25 player Ray Sarmiento in straight sets in the team semifinals.
Meister only won two games in both sets.
“It’s tough coming off that loss. But, it’s still tennis you know and that’s what I signed up for,” Meister said with some dejection.
“It’s tough to know that we came so close and it didn’t go our way, but then again I still get to play tennis, which is a positive thing tonight.”
Meister finished the year with a 19-6 record and was included in the field of 64 as an at large selection.
He will potentially get an opportunity to face Sarmiento’s teammate No. 1 Steve Johnson in the round of 16 if he can win his first two matches.
He starts with LSU’s Neal Skupski who went 18-11 this year.
Puget was also selected as an at-large competitor in the tournament. The sophomore is currently riding a 22-game win streak.
While the majority of his matches were won in the lower, and less competitive spots in the lineup, Puget looks forward to proving himself in individual competition.
“When you play for a team there is more pressure,” he said. “It is also fun to play for yourself because you can prove to yourself that you can beat some good players when you’re outside on your own.”
Puget will be in a position to play against top caliber players he wasn’t able to during team play because of the depth of UCLA’s roster.
His stellar 27-2 record will be put on the line against Duke’s Henrique Cunha in the first round.
“I can’t imagine that there is someone that has had a better record than him,” Martin said. “I think he’s very deserving. He’s as diligent as anyone on our team.”