The UCLA men’s tennis team, ranked No. 14 coming into season play, commanded the Sherwood Collegiate Cup this weekend with the Bruins earning a doubles title and a runner-up finish in the singles draw.
Junior Joseph Di Giulio and senior Karue Sell won the doubles finals with a 6-3 victory over Baylor’s Jimmy Bendeck and Will Little on Monday, while junior Gage Brymer reached the finals in singles play.
Di Giulio and Sell, the No. 2 seed in the doubles draw, were tied 1-1 with Bendeck and Little before a mist delay pushed them off the court. The match remained in gridlock when play resumed, as the teams battled to a 3-3 tie before Di Giulio and Sell pulled away to win the match 6-3.
“I’m certainly happy about it, but not surprised,” said coach Billy Martin. “They’ve been playing good doubles for the last year, but to put it together and win three or four straight matches like they did is always pleasing.”
The duo started its tournament run on Saturday, rallying from behind to defeat Yale Goldberg and David Wilczynski of Stanford, 7-6 (1), in the round of 16. Di Giulio and Sell went on to beat USC’s Jake DeVine and Tanner Smith 6-2 in the quarterfinals and Stanford’s Michael Genender and Sameer Kumar 6-2 in the semifinals.
“Our first round of doubles we were down 5-2,” Di Giulio said. “We were one game from being out (in the) first round, and we still trusted each other and just kept fighting and were able to come back.”
Brymer also came out strong this weekend in singles play, making his way all the way to the finals with decisive victories over Stanford’s Brandon Sutter and Genender and USC’s Nick Crystal and Jack Jaede throughout the first two days of competition.
“Gage had a fantastic tournament,” Martin said. “This is his third tournament back since last year after he broke his hand so to get to the finals and have the wins he had, I thought was fantastic. I think it’s really encouraging to the team and the coaches that he’s back to playing really, really good tennis.”
Baylor’s Julien Lenz, who finished No. 4 in the national singles rankings last season, proved to be too much to handle for Brymer, though, beating him 6-1, 6-3 in the finals on Monday.
“(Lenz) was really stingy with his points and he didn’t give away a lot of free points pretty consistently throughout the first and second set,” said Brymer. “He kept a lot of balls in play and attacked at the right times. There weren’t too many loose errors so it was hard to find gaps in his game where I could really try to make a run.”
One notable loss this weekend came when sophomore Martin Redlicki, expected to make a deep run in the tournament as the No. 3 seed, lost to Stanford’s Nolan Paige in the first round of singles play on Friday.
“I would say I was as disappointed as he was,” coach Martin said. “It was bad preparation and I don’t think he really gave (Paige) enough credit as he should have going into a match. You want to be ready for a tough match all the time and I don’t think Martin did that.”
Redlicki went on to lose in straight sets in the consolation singles finals against USC’s Logan Smith.
The Bruins now set their sights on Wednesday’s season-opening dual match at home against the University of San Francisco.