Billy Martin’s voice trailed, searching for words as he spoke. It had been a long day in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The No. 9 ranked UCLA men’s tennis team suffered its first loss of the season at the hands of No. 1 Virginia Tuesday afternoon, stunning coach Martin. The Bruins were routed 6-1 by the Cavaliers.
It was UCLA’s first road dual match and its first indoors. The faster style of play was a difficult adjustment for most of the team.
“I think we were very shocked at the whole pace of the match,” Martin said. “It’s an aggressive tennis. We were trying to set up points and rallies that you can do outside on the slower courts and slower conditions but indoors it just wasn’t going to work.”
For sophomore Logan Staggs, this was his first indoor match since transferring from Northwestern University – a school that plays predominantly indoors because of the weather.
“I actually felt pretty comfortable,” Staggs said. “I’m pretty used to indoors and it doesn’t really phase me as it used to. And I started off pretty hot.”
Despite a hard fought battle, Staggs lost 7-6, 6-4 to UVA’s J.C. Aragone – a top-100 ranked singles player.
“I think it was a very close match, personally,” Staggs said. “If I had won three or four points in the match I could have won. It was that close of a match.”
The Bruins had an uncharacteristic struggle in their doubles performance.
UVA’s Ryan Shane and Luca Corinteli – the No. 14 doubles team in the nation – beat junior Mackie McDonald and sophomore Martin Redlicki, 6-3, and UVA’s Mac Styslinger and Thai-Son Kwiatkowski – the No. 5 doubles team in the nation – beat senior Karue Sell and junior Joseph Di Giulio, 6-2.
“One, two and three for doubles are all top-20 in the country. They’re really good at doubles,” Sell said. “It makes it hard when they’re just so big. They just played so confidently from the start.”
After dropping the doubles point, the Bruins couldn’t find any momentum going into singles.
Five of the six Bruins in the singles lineup suffered straight set losses.
“It was not pretty,” Martin said. “I feel like they just dominated from start to finish on a lot of the courts.”
One notable loss was McDonald – last year’s Pac-12 Player of the Year and the Bruins’ No. 1 singles player. McDonald suffered a 6-3, 7-6 loss to UVA’s Ryan Shane – the No. 11 singles player in the country and former NCAA singles champion.
“He is just so dangerous. I mean he was so on tonight,” Martin said. “He served as well as I can possibly imagine. There’s just not a lot you can do when a guy’s hitting that big of a first serve and just absolutely ripping his forehand like he does.”
Only Sell managed to get the team on the scoreboard with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory over UVA’s Styslinger.
“I actually played better than I expected coming from practice. I was in it and feeling comfortable for most of the match,” Sell said. “I was like ‘You’ve just got to keep grinding here. You’ve got to make him tired.’ The second set I started feeling very comfortable.”
Despite the disappointing loss, the Bruins, now 5-1 for the season, hope to translate this match experience into success this weekend at the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship hosted at Virginia’s indoor facility.
“They’re, on paper, the best team in the country. And we’re right there. We had chances in all the matches,” Staggs said. “And so I feel that playing them, we’re pretty much ready for (indoor championship).”