The UCLA men’s tennis team may have shown a slight chink in the armor in its last outing on Monday, as the Bruins had to grind out a tough doubles point against BYU.
But after raising its game to another gear in singles, UCLA notched a win over BYU, its third in as many matches. The Bruins continue to look like a top-tier team heading into Saturday’s matchup against Fresno State.
While having its struggles, the team’s last match against BYU, which saw the Bruins clinching a spot in the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships in Seattle, Wash. in mid-February, was still a strong performance that should be a good indicator of how they will play this weekend against Fresno State.
“They were quite a good team last year; they lost, I think, five out of their six guys last year. I don’t expect them to be quite as strong of a team this year,” coach Billy Martin said of Fresno State. “They’re certainly a good team. We can’t let our guard down, and we don’t want to.”
The greatest struggle for the Bruins in their match against the Cougars was in doubles, where although they won the doubles point, it could have just as easily gone to BYU. Junior Adrien Puget, a winner in singles and doubles against BYU, believes that clinching the doubles point will be crucial to the team’s success against Fresno State.
“I think Fresno State has a young team. I really don’t know them. But I think that if we win the doubles point we can play free and loose again,” Puget said. “So I really think doubles is key. It’s better for us, to get confidence, so yeah, I think the doubles point is going to be really crucial.”
Sophomore Dennis Mkrtchian posted solid results against BYU, also winning in singles and doubles. He believes the Bruins have played well so far, and that after acquiring a few wins now, they have settled in and are looking forward to the upcoming stretch of the season.
“We’re really looking forward to it. We’re excited. It’s always good to get a few good wins under our belts, and just keep it going,” Mkrtchian said. “We’re looking forward to some tough matchups coming up. That’s why we play.”
UCLA defeated Fresno State last year at the USTA/ITA Indoor Qualifying Tournament at home, 4-0. Still, the Bruins are not taking anything for granted, especially given the tough stretch that lies ahead of them. After Fresno State, No. 3 UCLA takes on USD, No. 18 Stanford and No. 13 Cal, its biggest tests of the season, all within the next week. The current goal is to take everything one match at a time.
“We want ourselves to be going (on Saturday) because the following week we have three really tough matches – USD, Stanford, Cal,” Martin said. “Those three matches will be a very good test for us, our three toughest matches for sure, going into the Indoors.”
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