After back-to-back matches against Stanford and Cal last weekend, the UCLA men’s tennis team decided to head to Riverside the day after its Saturday match. The No. 3 Bruins made the decision to go to Riverside to practice at indoor tennis courts in preparation for the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in Seattle.
The indoor championships begin today, with coach Billy Martin believing the extra preparation will help the team get over the initial shock of playing in a different environment.
The championships will be contested on indoor tennis courts, which differ from the outdoor tennis courts the Bruins are accustomed to playing on. The coach acknowledged the team will need to make several adjustments in order to fine tune their game for the tournament.
“It always is quicker (indoors), the echoing, the courts are always a little faster than the ones we have here, so yes, it is an adjustment,” Martin said. “But if we can usually scrap by and get that first round under our belt with a few days of practice beforehand, we get into it and adjust to it pretty well. And there’s certain players that like it and don’t like it. For some it will be almost an advantage, some a bit of a disadvantage.”
UCLA men’s tennis will face off against No. 14 Tennessee in the opening round of the tournament. After wins over Pac-12 conference opponents Stanford and Cal, UCLA will head into the indoors with a perfect 7-0 record.
“It’s going to be good. We’re going to have the chance to play against the best schools, and see how our game is against them,” said redshirt freshman Karue Sell. “If we’re able to beat all of them, then we’ll have a very good chance of winning the NCAAs. I think everyone plays well indoors, it’s not going to be too big of a deal playing indoors.”
The Bruins are no strangers to the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, having won the event seven times, with the most recent victory coming in 2001. Last season, UCLA was defeated by Duke in the opening round, but went on to defeat both Tennessee and Cal in its subsequent matches at the tournament held in Virginia last year.
The team is hoping that the indoor practice from Sunday will help it get off on the right track heading into the weekend.
“I definitely think it will be good for us to get a little bit of indoor practice in. It’s a different game indoors, it’s much faster, much cleaner. All of these other teams on the east coast that play indoors all year, they’re going to be really prepared,” said sophomore Marcos Giron. “So we’ve got to get used to (indoor play). I think we should be able to do well though, our team is strong.”
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