Slow starts in doubles have characterized the Bruins in recent matches.
No. 2 UCLA men’s tennis (20-2, 5-0 Pac-12) lost the doubles point against No. 16 Oklahoma (17-2, 2-0 Big-12) in March and recently against No. 13 USC (12-7, 3-2) on April 6.
Despite going down 0-1 to start both matches, the Bruins have come out firing in singles to further their nine-match win streak.
“It just came down to a few points, losing the doubles points,” said sophomore Evan Zhu. “We just bounced back for singles.”
The Bruins took the match 5-2 against the Sooners, but the Trojans did not fall as easily. USC held UCLA to a 3-3 stalemate before junior Maxime Cressy clinched the match in singles.
Cressy was the only player to win in both singles and doubles against USC on Friday.
“I just focused on my teammates point by point,” Cressy said. “That’s what really helped me mentally get through the match because my legs were shaking, and I started getting very tired.”
Coach Billy Martin said he did not anticipate the loss of the doubles point in the crosstown rivalry match.
“We really thought we were going to win the doubles point in a tiebreaker leading 5-2 with Martin Redlicki serving,” Martin said. “I think if we had that situation 10 times, we’d win it nine out of 10.”
The Bruins’ top-ranked duo of senior Austin Rapp and freshman Keegan Smith, who post a 11-5 record on the season, lost in both matches where the doubles point was dropped.
The Trojans’ duo of Jack Jaede and Laurens Verboven defeated Rapp and Smith. However, Smith was able to rebound in singles, beating Jaede 6-3, 6-2.
“He was the first singles match off the court,” Martin said. “Smith just went out there and took care of business.”
UCLA took four of the six singles matches to edge out USC and sweep the season crosstown rivalry. Both Martin and Cressy noted the difficult conditions that USC presented, yet the team still managed to take the victory.
“I really couldn’t be prouder of the team, especially under a pretty raucous situation,” Martin said. “The team showed a lot of character by putting that (doubles loss) behind them.”