Tournament season isn’t over for the Bruins.
No. 7 UCLA men’s tennis sent 10 players to compete at the Sherwood Collegiate Cup this past weekend in Thousand Oaks, California. They competed with Stanford and Texas A&M in a four-day tournament from Friday to Monday.
The doubles team of freshman Govind Nanda and senior Maxime Cressy won the doubles tournament championship. In the singles tournament, Nanda as well as sophomore Keegan Smith both advanced to the semifinals before falling short. Six of the 10 Bruins won their first-round singles matches while only two of five doubles teams managed to win their openers.
Texas A&M, ranked No. 9, and Stanford, ranked No. 10, are high-level programs that provided a good test for UCLA’s young team, said coach Billy Martin.
“These are teams that always play at the top level of college tennis,” Martin said. “Going forward we will be sure to watch their matches, as they’ll watch ours, to see how we match up against other solid teams.”
On his way to a championship and semifinal, Nanda played in his first college tennis match. He said there was an adjustment to playing college opponents as opposed to USTA and Challenger events.
“Just a different kind of game,” Nanda said. “From the scoring being no-ad, which brings more pressure points, and also the pressure of playing for a team that represents your school.”
No-ad scoring is playing one point to win a game when the score is 40-40 instead of having to win two straight points to win a game.
Nanda said Cressy, his doubles partner, helped influence his game heading into collegiate tennis.
“He’s a great leader to have, and after a good fall season he came in with a lot of confidence,” Nanda said. “Playing with him at that level really gave me a lot of confidence this weekend.”
Smith played his way into the singles semifinals of the tourney for the second straight year before falling to No. 64 Alexandre Rotsaert. He said there were a few mental errors that hurt his play during the match.
“I have to work on patience, going for too much too soon in a rally can lose points,” Smith said. “Overall, the consistency of my groundstrokes is going to need to improve to win matches.”
Smith said that he feels more prepared to head into the dual match season as a sophomore, but there are also parts of his freshman experience that helped him play early on.
“I know what I’m getting into this year in terms of an entire season,” Smith said. “But, those feelings from last year, the nerves and excitement of your first college tennis match, they help your preparation.”
Martin said he was pleased with the performance of the team, but said he also knows there’s room for improvement.
“We were rusty, coming off the four days of rain,” Martin said. “But as the days went on we got better and better, particularly our young players … now we just have to keep searching and figuring out our doubles teams.”
After its doubleheader against UC Davis and Nevada was cancelled Wednesday due to rain, UCLA now opens its dual-match season at home against Indiana on Friday.