Rain can’t bother the Bruins this week.
No. 7 UCLA men’s tennis (3-0) will take on No. 14 Illinois (3-1) Wednesday at Midtown Athletic Club. After five of eight scheduled home matches were rained out to open the season, the switch to playing indoors in Chicago this week will mark a change in conditions for the Bruins.
Coach Billy Martin said the Bruins will have to change their play to compete with their opponents.
“We’ve got a great match against a good indoor team in Illinois,” Martin said. “We’ve got to change our style of game a little bit, definitely be more aggressive indoors, playing faster balls with more serve-and-volley.”
Junior Ben Goldberg said the team was aware of the Fighting Illini’s indoor prowess because of how they play most of the year.
“They’re very good, definitely a very good indoor team,” Goldberg said. “All those teams over there, they only play indoors, especially during this time of the year.”
Illinois will enter the match well-traveled, having played in tournaments in Tempe, Arizona, and Atlanta earlier in the year. UCLA hasn’t left Southern California since the start of the new year.
The Illini have played some elite competition so far this season, competing against six teams in the top 25. Illinois currently has three players in the top 30 of the ITA NCAA singles rankings.
Martin said UCLA has been preparing hard for its match with Illinois and doing its best to adjust to the new conditions.
“We’re leaving bright and early Sunday,” Martin said. “We’ll get a hit Sunday night, hit twice on Monday, a hit on Tuesday, and really look to be at our best to play the Fighting Illini on Wednesday night.”
Sophomore Bryce Pereira said the Bruins have played indoors before and they will be ready for full force from the Fighting Illini.
“Illinois has always been known for being such a good indoor team,” Pereira said. “We had a good run last year at (ITA Indoor Championship) and we’re going up early to get some good training time and practice time in indoors, which will help a lot.”
After the Illinois match on Wednesday, the Bruins will gear up for the ITA Indoor Championship over the weekend, also in Chicago.