Seven Bruins will play in Orlando, Florida, this weekend to compete in the men’s and women’s NCAA singles and doubles championships.
For the women’s team, redshirt junior Jada Hart and freshman Elysia Bolton are entered in singles, and the pairings of Hart and Bolton and No. 4 seed senior Ayan Broomfield and senior Gabby Andrews will play in the doubles bracket. On the men’s side, senior Maxime Cressy – seeded outside the top eight – sophomore Keegan Smith and freshman Govind Nanda will all be competing in the singles draw. The duo of Cressy and Smith will take on the doubles field as the No. 2 seed.
If Cressy and Smith win the title, it will be the first time since 1998-1999 that a university has won consecutive doubles titles with neither athlete from the first winning team returning for the second title.
Martin Redlicki and Evan Zhu clinched the title for UCLA last year, and Redlicki also won the title in 2016 with Mackenzie McDonald. Marcos Giron and McDonald were other recent champions for the Bruins, taking home singles titles in 2014 and 2016, respectively.
Both women’s pairings will have the opportunity to bring home the Bruins’ first doubles title since Tracy Lin and Riza Zalameda in 2008. Hart or Bolton could secure the first singles championship for UCLA since Keri Phebus in 1995.
Hart, who is 13-5 in singles, will start play against Meible Chi of Duke. Bolton enters the tournament after a 16-7 campaign, and opens her week with Florida’s McCartney Kessler. The duo’s 18-5 record will be pitted against Sadie Hammond and Kaitlin Staines of Tennessee in the first round.
Broomfield and Andrews ended the regular season 10-4, playing predominantly at the No. 1 doubles spot, and their postseason play will begin with a matchup against Victoria Emma and Kessler from Florida.
The Cressy and Smith partnership enters the tournament undefeated on the season, tallying 16 wins. Cressy and Smith will begin play against Old Dominion’s Aziz Kijametovic and Francois Musitelli.
Smith said he is looking forward to playing in the singles tournament with his fellow Bruins and to having the opportunity to compete in doubles with Cressy.
“There’s always a little less pressure when it’s not just you playing,” Smith said. “(Cressy) is a great doubles player. He’s always positive and brings a lot of skills to the doubles team.”
Each of the Bruins had at least 15 wins and no more than five losses this year. Cressy will take on Bar Botzer of Wake Forest in the first round of the singles tournament, Smith will open with Tulsa’s Majed Kilani and Nanda will face No. 8 seed Oliver Crawford of Florida.
Cressy said he is excited for his first trip to NCAA individuals and is confident in his game against the best in collegiate tennis.
“It’s something I’ve been waiting for my whole college career,” Cressy said. “A lot of these players aren’t going to like playing me. The game plan is to play to my strengths, play consistently and attack my opponents on serve and at the net.”
Nanda was originally the No. 8 alternate to be added to the field if needed. He found out Friday morning after getting off a plane in Orlando he was added to the draw.
“It’s really exciting to be here at NCAA’s,” Nanda said. “I wasn’t even sure I was going to be playing this week, and I was ecstatic when I found out I was in the field.”
Play will begin Monday at 7 a.m.