Monday, February 27

Men’s tennis overwhelms Arizona and Utah over the weekend

With many Bruin hopefuls in the crowd for Kid’s Day, the UCLA men’s tennis team lived up to expectations of the second-ranked team in the nation on Saturday.

No. 2 UCLA swept the University of Arizona 7-0 Saturday after defeating the University of Utah 6-1 on Friday. The Arizona match saw one of the regular season’s largest crowds, which many of players said helped keep them motivated and focused.

Although the box score shows a dominating performance from the Bruins, the Wildcats did not go down without a fight, especially on court No. 1, where junior Kieren Thompson took sophomore Marcos Giron to a third set.

“He was playing well today, but lately I haven’t been so sharp. I was making a lot of mistakes in big points that really changed the match,” Giron said.

On the other hand, Giron and partner sophomore Dennis Novikov were overpowering in doubles, only dropping two games in the entire weekend.

“This week, we were really focused on our doubles,” Giron said. “We came together more and we came out more focused and more intense, and we really worked as a team.”

Redshirt freshman Karue Sell also was forced into a third set, which he said showed a little rust in his game, but he also said that the crowd helped him finish strong and win the tiebreaker.

“We usually don’t have that big of a crowd, so it helps and gives us more motivation to win the match,” Sell said.

Sell said he was particularly happy with how the team was able to exploit Arizona’s weaknesses.

“They were good at the baseline but they weren’t very good at the net,” Sell said. “Once we figured that out we started playing more at the net and winning more points.”

Coach Billy Martin was not overly impressed by the team’s play this weekend, but he was glad that they took care of business and got two wins.

“I just felt like we were the better team top to bottom, and I felt like it wasn’t ever going to be a super-competitive match,” Martin said.

Martin took advantage of the absence of some of Arizona’s top players, giving seniors Maxime Tabatruong and Alex Brigham an opportunity in singles. Both players came through on courts five and six, respectively.

Next up for the Bruins are back-to-back matches against Washington and Oregon, followed by two final matches against Pepperdine and USC before the Pac-12 tournament.

“I expect us to hopefully be 6 and 0 going into our match against USC, and having that decide the regular season Pac-12 champion,” Martin said.

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