The start to the new year also brings the start to the 2017 UCLA men’s tennis season that is filled with determination.
Coach Billy Martin is confident and counting on the singles line up this season to bring strong competition.
“I think we have good depth in our singles, I think 1-6 will be strong,” Martin said. “I think we can compete at every spot, you know we don’t have a real weakness in any of our spots in the singles line up.”
The doubles line up is yet to be determined because freshman Evan Zhu was not at UCLA all fall. Zhu is ranked No. 53 in the nation and has been competing in national and local tournaments and had great success. Zhu will aide the Bruins in their search for victory the season once again.
Last year the Bruins went undefeated in conference play and upheld an overall record of 24-2.
Martin says, “It’s hard to imagine that we will have as good a season because that was an awful good season last year,” Martin said. “But I’m optimistic that we can have a good season, compete at a real high level, hopefully we stay healthy and the guys compete well and if we get a little luck we could have a great season.”
Junior Austin Rapp mentioned how beneficial the preseason tournaments are for preparing the men for the start of the season.
“It’s always good because it gets us in the groove a little bit, to get out there and play matches,” Rapp said. “The season is a little bit different, it’s obviously a different format and different kinds of pressures but it definitely gets us good and playing well, just to get matches out there is always good for sure.”
Rapp said his goal for the season is winning as many matches as he can in the position he ends up playing.
Last season Rapp accumulated a 14-7 doubles record and a 14-7 singles record.
Senior Gage Brymer has high hopes for his final season with the Bruins. After ending last season having been ranked as high as No. 41, he looks forward to another season to improve.
Since competing at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association indoor championships, Brymer competed in a professional tournament over break and felt confident in his playing.
“My goal is to win the NCAAs,” Brymer said. “Individually and with the team obviously, we’ve come up a little short the last couple years but I think we’ve got a good shot at competing for the title.”
As a duo Brymer and Rapp won the consolation doubles final at the 2016 Sherwood Collegiate Cup.
Senior Joseph Di Giulio says the first goal will be to start off the season well and build toward the Pac-12 tournament before the team started building towards a national championship.
Di Giulio is personally hoping to qualify for the NCAA singles tournament to complete his senior season.
Last year Di Giulio and his doubles partner Karue Sell made it to the 2015 USTA/ITA Southwest Regional Championships doubles semifinals.
During the season Di Giulio held a 24-12 doubles record and a 26-12 singles record.
Di Giulio speaks on behalf of the team’s goals, “The goal is a national championship, but that’s obviously a long ways away.”
The Bruins’ first home match will be on Wednesday Jan. 18 at 2 p.m. against Grand Canyon University.