The Bruins are doubles champions.
Senior Martin Redlicki and sophomore Evan Zhu of UCLA men’s tennis defeated Ohio State’s Martin Joyce and Mikael Torpegaard 6-7, 7-6, 11-9 to win UCLA’s thirteenth NCAA men’s doubles championship in program history.
“It was literally a margin of one point here and there,” Zhu said. “We just kept fighting and were never discouraged.”
After a back-and-forth first set with no break points, Ohio State jumped out to an early 5-0 lead in the tiebreaker. Redlicki and Zhu fought back with five straight points of their own to close the gap.
However, with the tiebreaker at 8-8, Ohio State rallied two straight points to take the first set.
In the second set, each pair earned 1 break point apiece en route to another tiebreaker. This time, however, Zhu’s volley winner gave the Bruins a 7-4 victory to force a third set super tiebreaker.
UCLA raced out to an 8-5 lead in the super tiebreaker. However, 4 consecutive points by Ohio State put the Bruins on the brink of elimination.
In the third set, Redlicki and Zhu tallied three straight points to win the set 11-9 and the doubles championship.
“My last match ever is a national championship, and it doesn’t really get much better than that,” Redlicki said. “More so, I couldn’t be more proud of what we achieved as a team this season.”
After the Bruins fell to the Buckeyes in the semifinals of the team championship, Zhu said the rematch added to the pair’s motivation.
“I think the championship was motivation in itself, but it was a plus to get one back for our team,” Zhu said.
Redlicki became the third Bruin to win two doubles national championships, previously winning in 2016 with Mackie McDonald.
“Winning a national championship is the pinnacle of college sports,” Redlicki said. “Two (titles) – it’s really hard to describe.”
The Bruins’ other doubles pair, senior Austin Rapp and freshman Keegan Smith, fell to Joyce and Torpegaard 7-6, 6-7, 8-10 in the semifinals. The duo fell just short of advancing to a potential all-UCLA championship match.
“Losing two unbelievably close matches (to Ohio State) would have been a tough pill to swallow,” said coach Billy Martin.
Redlicki and Smith also competed in the singles championships. Smith fell to eventual Final Four participant Nuno Borges of Mississippi State 6-2, 6-7, 4-6 in the first round.
Redlicki, the No. 1 overall seed in singles, advanced to the Final Four before falling to No. 4-seeded Petros Chrysochos of Wake Forest, 1-6, 6-4, 4-6. Chrysochos would go on to defeat his teammate Borna Gojo in straight sets to win the individual title.
NCAA women’s individual championships
In the women’s singles bracket, sophomore Ena Shibahara advanced to her second straight quarterfinals. She defeated Vanderbilt’s Christina Rosca 6-2, 6-1 in the opening round.
“I had lost to (Rosca) in the fall at All-Americans,” Shibahara said. “I was sort of looking for revenge.”
The No. 7-seeded Bruin won her second round match against Idaho’s Marianna Petrei 6-2, 6-1 before falling to Pepperdine’s Ashley Lahey in the round of 16. Lahey would advance to the finals before falling to Ole Miss’ Arianne Hartono in the championship match.
“I just had trouble executing (against Lahey) when I needed to and fell short,” Shibahara said.
Senior Terri Fleming and redshirt-sophomore Jada Hart, the lone Bruin pair in the doubles bracket, were eliminated by Gabriela Knutson and Miranda Ramirez of Syracuse in the first round, 6-2, 3-6, 10-7.