By one match, the Bruins are the team to beat in the Pac-12.
No. 4 UCLA men’s tennis blanked the Arizona Wildcats 4-0 Friday in Tucson, Arizona, and the Utah Utes 4-0 Sunday in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Bruins advanced to 18-2 overall and 6-0 in the Pac-12, with the pair of wins.
“I thought we played very well,” said coach Billy Martin. “It’s always tough conditions in the altitude but everyone stayed very focused and did a good job. A very, very good team effort.”
UCLA made up for their recent lackluster doubles play with two resounding performances over the weekend.
The Bruins handily took both doubles points, with especially strong performances from junior Joseph Di Giulio and senior Karue Sell. The duo beat Arizona’s Will Adkisson and Naoki Takeda 6-2, and Utah’s Jamey Swiggart and Parker McGuiness 6-4.
“I think we just tried to come out with more emphasis on having a good start and just making sure that, once we have our leads, we were closing out our opponents,” Di Giulio said. “Just a lot of energy in doubles and it went well for us.”
Junior Mackie McDonald and sophomore Martin Redlicki helped carry the team in doubles as well. The pair took down Arizona’s Will Kneale and Oliver Plaskett 7-6, and Utah’s Dan Little and Matt Cowley 6-2.
UCLA continued its hot streak in singles play on the trip. Every completed match was a straight-set victory. One standout singles performer was Redlicki, who took down Arizona’s Kneale 6-3, 6-3 to clinch the match for the Bruins on Friday.
“He was a lefty; I hadn’t played a lefty in a really long time,” Redlicki said. “I can’t even remember the last time I did. Being a lefty myself, just knowing what he’s thinking in certain situations – most likely where he’s going to serve and stuff like that – definitely helped.”
In similar fashion, he handled Utah’s David Micevski 6-3, 6-1 Sunday to give the team a 3-0 lead over the Utes.
“I just executed well the whole weekend,” Redlicki said. “I just played good tennis.”
Sell, who is now 16-0 in singles, and sophomore Logan Staggs also recorded straight-set victories over the weekend, helping the team notch key points for their wins.
“I think (the team) really did a good job mentally,” Martin said. “There’s no way we’re going to come here and play really good tennis because we don’t have enough time to get used to the elements with the altitude. They kept their heads, did a really good job, played smart and just did what they could.”
The Bruins will return home to face the UC San Diego Tritons on Thursday and the No. 8 USC Trojans on Sunday, which will decide the Pac-12 regular season title.
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