Home court advantage feels a little bit awkward for the Bruins heading into the NCAAs this season.
No. 2 UCLA men’s tennis will host the first two rounds of the 2016 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championship at the Sunset Canyon Recreation Center tennis courts starting May 19.
The Bruins, who typically host their matches at the Los Angeles Tennis Center, have been forced to relocate due to construction for new football and basketball training facilities.
Construction will likely force the Bruins to relocate to the Sunset Recreation Center for next season as well.
“It will still be an exciting home court advantage on campus,” said assistant coach Grant Chen. “We might not have all the bells and whistles and extra rooms and space and clubhouse and team rooms as we may have been fortunate to have in the past, but it’s okay. When all is said and done, it’s got to be done on the tennis courts.”
Construction for the Mo Ostin Basketball Center – a state-of-the-art training facility for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams that is being built directly adjacent to the LATC – has been long in the process. UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero announced plans for the facility in May 2014.
Portions of the LATC backcourts have been ripped up so construction can proceed with building plans for the facility.
Because football and men’s basketball are the cash cows for UCLA athletics, the construction for the training facilities takes precedence over other team’s schedules. Revenue for football and men’s basketball – approximately $58.34 million – is eight times greater than the revenue of all other UCLA sports combined – $7.74 million.
“Yes, it may be a little frustrating,” said coach Billy Martin. “But the big picture is it’s for football and basketball – they’re supporting all of our programs here. They’re the two big sports that make some money and allow us to have our program as well as a lot of other programs. I think you have to take that into perspective.”
Although the construction comes at an inconvenient time for the team, Martin said that they have accepted the new changes for the tournament and for the upcoming season.
“We’re still focused and we’ve talked about it enough to say that this is going to be our home for a while,” Martin said. “The athletic department has done a really good job of getting (Sunset Recreation Center) looking really nice. I think we’ll be fine; I’m not too worried about it.”
The athletic department put a considerable amount of time into making the recreation center a viable hosting location for the tournament. In addition to resurfacing the courts, UCLA Athletics funded new windscreens, a new scoreboard, extensive bleachers for courts one through four and extra seating for courts five and six.
This won’t be UCLA’s first time playing dual matches at the Sunset Recreation Center tennis courts this season. The team downed UC San Diego 7-0 there April 14. The match served as a solid test run for more competitive play down the road.
“We’re the same team, same guys on the court, and it’s the same goal – just to win matches up there, and it doesn’t really matter where we play,” sophomore Austin Rapp said. “It’s still our courts and we’re going to take the opportunity to win and get to Tulsa.”
The Bruins will face Weber State in the first round of the tournament May 13. The winner will play either Vanderbilt or San Diego in the following round.