UCLA men’s tennis hasn’t won the NCAA championship since 2005, but the Bruins just broke an even bigger dry spell.
No. 4 UCLA (11-2) defeated No. 3 Ohio State (10-1) and No. 5 Texas A&M (7-2) in the ITA Division I National Men’s Team Indoor Championship this past weekend. UCLA reached the finals for the first time since 2004, but fell just short to No. 1 Wake Forest (9-0).
The ITA indoor championship stars the top teams in the nation and is considered the second-most prominent tournament behind the NCAAs.
“I feel we’re much better than most of these teams outdoors, so the fact that we proved that we have the level indoors makes us really confident for NCAAs,” said junior Maxime Cressy.
The Bruins broke a 21-year dry streak to win the NCAA championship in 2005.
For the past three years, the Bruins were knocked out in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. Last year, No. 5 seed UCLA was upset by No. 13 seed Georgia. This year, Georgia was defeated in the quarterfinal round by No. 2 Stanford.
The Bruins fell in the quarterfinals in the 2017 ITA indoor championship, and in the semifinals in 2016. And the recent run to the finals was crucial in silencing the doubters.
“A lot of people were counting us out, and a lot of people thought that we had no chance,” said No. 3 senior Martin Redlicki, who clinched two matches in this weekend’s tournament. “I think that we’re really opening up the eyes of a lot of people that UCLA is no pushover, and that we can really just do some big things for the rest of the year.”
Coach Billy Martin said that this tournament proved the depth of his team.
“I think we can compete with almost any team in the country,” Martin said. “I can’t say I was completely convinced of that going into the tournament, but … I think the team showed me that (it’s) ready to battle with anybody.”
While it is still early in the season, Martin said the Bruins’ performance in the indoor championship foreshadows the team’s success this year.
“This gives us a lot of confidence moving forward, that anything is possible on any given day and that we could really beat anyone in the country.” Martin said.