The Bruins have only played one match indoors this season – and that was just two days ago, against Seattle.
“I don’t expect them to be very comfortable even come Friday because it’s sort of a different mind frame,” said coach Billy Martin. “We have to adapt very quickly; a lot of the teams that we’re playing against, such as Illinois, play all-indoor tennis.”
No. 7 UCLA (8-1) will take on No. 10 Illinois (4-2) in the first round of the ITA Division I National Men’s Team Indoor Championship on Friday.
After coming off a 7-0 sweep of Seattle on Wednesday, UCLA is operating on a quick turnaround.
“It’s always fast and furious, but it’s what we expected and what’s happened throughout the years when we have played this tournament,” Martin said.
The tournament boasts 16 of the top men’s tennis teams in the nation, according to ITA rankings, and is also regarded as the second-biggest collegiate tournament behind May’s NCAA championships.
“Everything’s faster and everyone plays more aggressive,” said senior Logan Staggs. “The speed on the ball is much faster and the game itself is a faster pace.”
UCLA holds seven ITA indoor team championships, but many of the freshmen on the team are entering new territory.
“Yeah, I’m pretty happy that we at least got to play a match because I don’t have much experience indoors,” said freshman Bryce Pereira. “I know some of the guys who’ve played indoors before, but younger guys like us freshmen haven’t played as much.”
While Illinois holds a record of 4-2, Martin said the Bruins are more concerned about facing tougher teams later in the tournament. UCLA could potentially face No. 4 Georgia, who defeated the Bruins in the quarterfinals of last year’s NCAA championship.
“I know (Illinois is) a good team – we’re going to have to play well to beat them,” Martin said. “I’m not going to say that I’m overconfident, but I certainly feel that we have a chance to win.”