The UCLA men’s tennis team last traveled to Baylor two years ago, and the going was tough. Though the Bruins escaped with a 4-3 victory, they found that the windy conditions and intense Bears fans made it a particularly rough environment to compete in.
This weekend, No. 2 UCLA hits the road to once again challenge Baylor in just the team’s second away match of the season.
“It was a really tough match. Playing over there is really tough. It’s far away. It’s really away from home,” said junior Adrien Puget, who played there two years ago. “It’s tough to play because it’s windy, and the Baylor fans are really intense and make you feel uncomfortable on the court.”
In addition to defeating Baylor on the road two years ago, UCLA defeated the team 6-1 at home last year. However, the match that still seems to resonate with the Bruins is the heartbreaker they suffered against the Bears two years ago at the NCAA Round of 16, losing 4-3, despite having four match points.
“Baylor is always a very competitive team, so I’m looking forward to a tough, tough match,” said coach Billy Martin. “We need to be ready mentally and physically. We beat them down there in a barn burner (during the regular season). … The last tough match we had against them was a heartbreak loss for us (in the NCAA Tournament).”
Although the Bruins are currently 12-1 on the season, they have had a lack of road challenges so far, something that will come into play more later on in their schedule.
Puget said he believes that the road match will be particularly tricky for the current freshmen and sophomores on the squad who will be getting their first test playing Baylor in Waco, Texas.
Redshirt freshman Karue Sell said because of the lack of away matches so far, it will be even more crucial for the Bruins to maintain their focus in a different setting.
“It’s definitely going to be tough because we don’t really play matches away,” Sell said. “We’ve just got to be focused, and do what we’ve been doing. We’ve got to forget about playing away and just play our tennis.”