New year, slightly new stadium.
The UCLA men’s tennis team is moving back into the Los Angeles Tennis Center after playing at the Sunset Canyon Recreation Center tennis courts for more than one year. The move began in May 2016 because of the construction of the Mo Ostin Basketball Center right next to the courts, which forced parts of the LATC courts to be ripped up in the process.
The Bruins return to their old home of 32 years, where they have lost only two games at home since 2012.
“We made a good home of our Sunset courts while it lasted. We won 19 matches up there and didn’t lose.” said senior Austin Rapp. “We’ve really done well at home and hopefully continue to bring that into the season. It’s a good vibe and we feel like we own the place when other teams come in.”
The team moved to the Sunset Canyon courts and capitalized on home-field advantage, amassing a record of 19-0 last season at home.
Heading back to LATC gives the Bruins the ability to attract more fans with the higher seating capacity. With just two main grandstands, Sunset Canyon courts has a seating capacity of about 100, while LATC allows for about 5,000 people.
However, some players said Sunset Canyon courts’ lower capacity created a more lively atmosphere, while LATC is more open and quiet.
“So (although) you get less people (at Sunset Canyon courts), it feels like more because the sounds are closer; it sounds like there are more people there.” said senior Logan Staggs. “Here, it’s kind of hard to fill in seats even when you get a lot of people so it kind of feels like it’s empty.”
The play of the courts is also different, with LATC being known as a more lively court compared to Sunset said Staggs. He added the ball moves faster at LATC, so the players will have to adjust.
The shift to LATC also changes the practice location for the Bruins who used to share the practice courts with the women’s team.
“(Women’s tennis coach Stella Sampras Webster) chose to practice early in the morning and we practice at 2 p.m. so there’s really no overlapping,” said coach Billy Martin. “ Six courts is plenty for us – we have 12, 13 guys so we never really need more than five or six courts.”
Nevertheless, the Bruins are excited to be back home.
“I’m happy to be back. I really liked being out here.” Staggs said.