Unlike many of the teams participating at this weekend’s ITA Division I National Men’s Team Indoor Championship, UCLA will be playing its first indoor match of the season two days before the event.
The No. 7 Bruins (7-1) will travel to the Pacific Northwest to face unranked Seattle Redhawks (3-3) on Wednesday.
“We’re not an indoor school at all,” said sophomore Ben Goldberg. “The match will be a good prep for the weekend (at ITA Indoor championship).”
UCLA scheduled the nonconference match against Seattle because of the opponent’s close proximity to this year’s ITA indoor nationals at the University of Washington. In recent seasons, the Bruins have scheduled indoor matches close to the annual tournament, including last year’s match against Tulsa before the team headed to Virginia.
Indoor matches are usually played at a quicker pace due to the court conditions and faster ball speeds, differences that the Bruins must grow accustomed to throughout the week.
“We’ve got to get into a mind frame of being more aggressive. … On the slower outdoor courts, sometimes you want to work the point a little bit more,” said coach Billy Martin. “The big serves seem to survive a little bit better indoors.”
To prepare for the indoor conditions, UCLA traveled to Seattle on Monday to hold as many practice sessions as possible before Wednesday’s match. The team will also practice indoors Thursday before the ITA indoor nationals kick off the following day.
Although the Bruins have no matchup familiarity with their opponent, Martin said the team looks forward to gaining experience playing indoors.
“I’m not worried about (Seattle) quite so much,” Martin said. “That’s the least of our problems. We just want to be able to get a lot of indoor court time.”
Singles No. 1 senior Martin Redlicki will look to bounce back from his first dual-match loss of the season. UCLA also aims to clinch its first road win of the season, in addition to its first doubles point in three matches, following dropped points to Stanford and UNLV.
“(Doubles) is really not a concern, in my opinion,” Martin said. “(But) doubles is a lot faster paced (indoors). … You really have to play aggressively.”
Despite starting its season 0-3, Seattle has won three straight matches heading into its bout against UCLA.
“(We) respect everyone but fear no one,” said freshman Keegan Smith. “We are favored pretty highly but still have to get the job done, and I’m sure we will.”