Sunday, February 23

Adjusting to playing indoors crucial for UCLA men’s tennis

Freshman Keegan Smith, a San Diego native, and most of the members of the UCLA men's tennis roster are accustomed to playing outdoors due to warm weather all year long. The Bruins will have to adjust to indoor courts for the ITA Division I National Men's Team Indoor Championship this February. (Keila Mayberry/Daily Bruin staff)

UCLA earned a spot in the ITA Division I National Men’s Team Indoor Championship in February, but the Bruins will face a potential challenge in trying to adjust to playing indoors.

As 12 of the 13 members of the No. 6 UCLA men’s tennis team (6-0) hail from Southern California or Florida, the vast majority of the roster is accustomed to using outdoor courts year-round.

Coach Billy Martin said his players are mainly used to playing outdoors, but have also competed in some indoor tournaments.

“I think it’s an adjustment for all of our players, quite honestly,” Martin said after the two wins during the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. “A lot of these kids have played a fair amount of indoor tournaments so it’s not like they’re unfamiliar with it, but it’s got to be a short, compact adjustment.”

The Bruins have won the National Men’s Team Indoor Championship a total of seven times, but their most recent title came 17 years ago in 2001.

UCLA topped USC 4-3 in the first round last year, then fell to Virginia in the quarterfinals 4-0 and dropped the consolation match against California 4-3. Stanford boasts the most trophies from the event’s history with a total of 12.

Martin said scheduling an indoor match against Seattle two days prior to the indoor championship should help with the transition.

“That’s about as good as we can do. It’s always a bit of a struggle for us but it is what is, and we have to adapt and get used to it,” Martin said. “It’s good for us because sometimes, the NCAA matches get pulled indoors. It could happen at the biggest tournament of the year so I think it’s a good test.”

Junior Maxime Cressy said that his style of play is better suited for indoor courts, and that he often enjoys transitioning to the net and playing aggressively.

“My game is really fit for indoor so I’m really excited,” Cressy said. “I’m really excited to see who my opponents will be. We’re a very good team and we’re in a very good position.”

One of Martin’s biggest assets going into the event is senior Martin Redlicki, the top-ranked college player in the country, who is currently playing first singles and doubles for the Bruins.

“I’m trying to lead by example more than anything,” Redlicki said. “I’m hoping that’s rubbing off well on the other guys and will continue.”

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