After several rain delays, the Bruins’ season came to an end.
No. 2-seeded UCLA men’s tennis (30-3, 8-0 Pac-12) fell 1-4 to No. 3-seeded Ohio State (34-2, 11-0 Big Ten) ending the Bruin’s NCAA tournament run. This was the first year UCLA advanced to the semifinal of the tournament since 2014.
Both the Bruins and the Buckeyes came out hot, as two out of the three doubles courts went to tiebreaks.
“(At) No. 3 doubles I believe we had two match points on our serve at 5-4,” said coach Billy Martin. “Served for it again 6-5 – (we) let both of those opportunities go by.”
On court one, the No. 29 doubles pair of senior Martin Redlicki and sophomore Evan Zhu defeated the Buckeyes’ Martin Joyce and JJ Wolf 7-5.
UCLA was bested on court two, with No. 16 duo senior Austin Rapp and freshman Keegan Smith falling in the tiebreak 7-6(4).
Ohio State’s Matt Mendez and Hunter Tubert clinched the doubles point on court three, putting the Buckeyes up 1-0.
“We were shocked after losing the doubles point,” Martin said. “It’s always a tough transition after you lose that doubles point (and) you’ve got five to eight minutes to put it out of your mind.”
Rain delays characterized this year’s tournament, and this match was no exception. Thunder in the middle of singles play paused the semifinal match at 4 p.m. and delayed the match for two and a half hours. The second rain delay occurred at 7:30 p.m. and prevented play for another half-hour.
“I think our team felt a little down starting the singles,” Martin said. “I think the rain delay gave us a little time to get off the court to regenerate and gave me time to talk to them in a better mind frame.”
Following the first rain delay, No. 1 singles Redlicki battled back in his rematch against No. 6 Mikael Torpegaard from the ITA indoor championship to win the first set 6-3.
Each team ended up with three first sets a piece, as freshman Connor Hance and Smith also picked up their first sets.
Senior Logan Staggs lost his first set 3-6 to the Buckeyes’ Kyle Seelig, and Zhu dropped his third first set in the past two weeks 5-7.
Hance secured the first and only point for the Bruins, defeating Tubert 7-5, 6-3 to tie it up 1-1.
Redlicki, after losing in the second 3-6, rallied back in the third set to go up 4-1 yet failed to capitalize on the opportunity. Torpegaard defeated Redlicki in the third 4-6, furthering the margin to 2-1.
“I feel like I made him come up with some really good shots and he did,” Redlicki said. “4-2 serving 30-0 up, first point he hit a forehand that I barely got a racket on.”
The Buckeyes also rallied back on court four to take the lead 3-1.
It all came down to the third set on court five, where Cressy fell to Martin Joyce 3-6, 6-3, 3-6.
Redlicki and Smith will also compete in the NCAA individual championship in singles and also in doubles, with their partners Zhu and Rapp respectively, starting Wednesday.