Monday, April 23

Bruins find individual success during tennis offseason

Sophomore Dennis Novikov was one of the UCLA tennis players who competed in the offseason. Novikov made a surprising individual run in the U.S. Open after winning the Boys’ 18s Nationals.

After a 20-13 individual record in his sophomore season, Dennis Novikov elected to turn pro on Thursday. Daily Bruin file photo / Daily Bruin

While the UCLA men’s and women’s tennis seasons officially get underway during the winter quarter, the fall often serves as a chance for players to gain match experience.

The two teams often send players to tournaments that are not team events to play in both singles and doubles matches.

And while some Bruins experienced success and gained valuable experience during the fall, the UCLA men’s team suffered a big doubles loss.

The loss, however, didn’t come in a fall tournament. Instead, coach Billy Martin’s squad bid farewell to senior Warren Hardie.

“(Hardie) was supposed to be with us but decided to retire from the team after the fall. (He) had played doubles with us the last two years, so somebody else is going to have to step up for us,” Martin said.

Without Hardie, a key piece in the team’s figh

Sophomore Robin Anderson won the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate title in the offseason.
Sophomore Robin Anderson won the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate title in the offseason.
t for the doubles point the past two seasons, the coach is concerned about strengthening that area of the team once again.

“I think doubles is something we’re going to need to work on. I seem to say that every year, but a little bit (of that) is every year having good chemistry on the teams,” Martin said.

While the doubles point remains a concern for the Bruin men, the fall is often a time for individual players to shine, a trend that has continued this year.

Women’s tennis player sophomore Robin Anderson and men’s tennis player sophomore Marcos Giron each took home a singles title, at the USTA/ITA Southwest Regionals in San Diego and Irvine, respectively.

The singles titles punched the pair’s tickets to the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in New York. The two then played at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open Grand Slam tournament.

While No. 5-seeded Giron was knocked out in the quarterfinals, Anderson became the first UCLA player since 1995 to win a National Indoor title as she sailed through the tournament winning all of her matches in straight sets, including the final.

“I think it was really big for her because she didn’t play hardly at all this summer,” women’s coach Stella Sampras Webster said of Anderson.

“She was really struggling with a back injury she had during NCAAs last year. So, for her to come back and win a regional and then go and compete and win the national indoors was huge for her.”

The fall provided not only a glimpse into Anderson’s recovery but a chance for Sampras Webster to take stock of her entire squad.

“It’s basically just information, and the information that we gathered was we’re still very talented, very good, and still very young,” Sampras Webster said.

Anderson and Giron were neither the only Bruins to make a trip to the famed Billie Jean King National Tennis Center this offseason nor the first. Months before the National Indoor tournament, men’s tennis sophomore Dennis Novikov made a surprising run in the U.S. Open.

Novikov won the Boys’ 18s Nationals in Kalamazoo, Mich., to qualify for the U.S. Open in August.

A wild-card entry to the U.S. Open, Novikov beat the then-No. 86 pro player in the country to advance to the second round before losing in four sets.

Despite Novikov’s incredible individual run to the U.S. Open and quarterfinal finish at the Southern California Intercollegiate Championships in November, the sophomore is happy to be back in UCLA’s team environment.

“(I’m) just excited to start team matches because they are a lot more fun than individual matches, and the individual matches we play year-round,” Novikov said.

Email Drohan at [email protected].

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