The UCLA men’s tennis team got its first crack at the competition this past weekend.
They battled the likes of USC, Stanford, Cal and Baylor, all of whom they will be facing off against during the regular season, at the Sherwood Collegiate Cup.
The No. 3 Bruins got a good barometer of where their level of play is currently at heading into the first team event of the season this Wednesday against UC Santa Barbara. And if the results are any indication, things should bode well for this team heading into conference play.
“It’s usually a good testing ground to see where we’re at. Most of the guys look pretty sharp, and in good shape,” coach Billy Martin said.
“That’s why I like this tournament, it gives me a good indication of where the guys are after the holidays.”
The Bruins posted solid results throughout the weekend, including victories in three of the four singles quarterfinal matches Saturday, all of which were against USC.
Sophomore Dennis Novikov notched a victory over Roberto Quiroz of USC, in addition to junior Adrien Puget’s win over USC’s Yannick Hanfmann and sophomore Marcos Giron’s victory over USC’s Eric Johnson. The lone loss came from sophomore Dennis Mkrtchian, who fell 7-5, 6-4 to top-seeded Ray Sarmiento of USC.
“Those are some crucial matchups that we will probably see a lot. We could play USC a maximum of five times, but at least probably two or three,” Martin said.
Puget advanced to the singles final and lost a riveting encounter against Sarmiento, finally succumbing. The third set was a battle that went down to the wire, with Puget overcoming a 2-4 deficit, and holding a match point at 5-4 up.
In the doubles competition, the Bruins also posted stellar results with Giron/Novikov clinching a close win in the final over Johnson/Gomez of USC, to be crowned Sherwood Collegiate Cup doubles champions.
“I think I’ve been playing really well lately, and it’s good to see Adrien playing well after not being able to play in the fall due to knee tendinitis,” said Giron.
“I think all of the players are pumped up for the season, which is really a good thing.”
With all of the schools participating in the Sherwood Collegiate Cup currently ranked in the top 15 teams nationally, the strong results from the Bruins show that they are able to deliver against the other elite tennis programs in the nation.
Across the board in singles and doubles, the Bruins showed the depth neededto compete at high levels, and that they will likely be well equipped for the season opener on Wednesday against UC Santa Barbara.
“I’m hitting the ball well, playing well, so I feel good, and the team is doing well, everyone is stepping up and playing well,” said Mkrtchian.
“I think everyone did really well in this tournament and that’s a great sign before a season starts.”