The Bruins proved they could dominate even with their star player missing from the lineup.
The No. 6 UCLA men’s tennis walloped the BYU Cougars 7-0 at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on Thursday to improve 11-2 for the season.
The Bruins were without All-American junior Mackie McDonald for the match. McDonald is currently playing at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California – an ATP Masters 1000 event.
“I was a little concerned for two reasons,” said coach Billy Martin. “One, Mackie’s not here with us, which is such an integral part of our team in both singles and doubles. Plus the fact that it’s finals and guys are really starting to stress out about classes, review sessions, all that.”
UCLA took a quick 1-0 lead with wins on courts one and three in doubles. Freshman Maxime Cressy replaced McDonald as sophomore Martin Redlicki’s partner at the No. 2 doubles spot. The duo did not play out their match because of the wins on the other two courts.
In singles, the Bruins cruised with straight-set victories in five of the six matches. Redlicki was the No. 1 spot in McDonald’s absence.
The sophomore crushed BYU’s Shane Monroe 6-2 in the first set, but struggled visibly in the second, letting the set go to a tiebreaker. Redlicki kept steady though, pulling out the 7-6 victory in the second.
“It was just a combination of knowing that I’m a better player and just trusting that I’ve been working on my game enough that I could rely on it in tighter situations,” Redlicki said. “I don’t want to look back on the score but I don’t think it should have been 6-2, 7-6, personally. In tennis, crazy things can happen and you just have to move on.”
Redshirt senior Ryoto Tachi jumped into the lineup at the No. 6 singles spot for his first dual-match appearance of the season.
“I was very cognizant that this was absolutely Ryoto’s last chance to play here at LATC,” Martin said. “He deserved that. He’s worked so very hard over the last five years and hasn’t gotten as much play as I know he would have liked to but he certainly has never stopped working tennis-wise and academically.”
Tachi climbed back from a sluggish first set, winning his match 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 against BYU’s Aidan Carrazedo.
“The guy had a strategy, came out, stuck to his strategy,” Tachi said. “I was putting pressure on myself but once I got the first set over, looking at the guys taking the sets on the other courts, I was a little more relaxed. I just calmed down a little bit.”
Sophomore Austin Rapp remained absent from the singles lineup, but played at the No. 3 spot in doubles. Rapp sprained his ankle at the ITA Division I National Men’s Team Indoor Championship mid-February.
“I still don’t think he’s 100 percent,” Martin said. “He’s playing pretty good doubles but movement-wise, singles-wise, watching him play Monday through Wednesday, I don’t think he’s there.”
The Bruins will face UNLV in Las Vegas on March 22.