Wednesday, January 29

UCLA men’s tennis defeats Idaho in first round of NCAA tournament

Junior Maxime Cressy gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead over Idaho with a straight-set singles win. UCLA will advance to face San Diego in the second round of the NCAA regionals. (Pinkie Su/Daily Bruin)

The match was delayed more than three hours, but the Bruins were off the court in less than two.

No. 2-seeded UCLA men’s tennis (27-2, 8-0 Pac-12) defeat Idaho (15-8, 10-1 Big Sky) 4-0 in the first round of the NCAA regionals at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.

“We didn’t bring our level down to our opponent’s level,” said coach Billy Martin. “We played sharp tennis and didn’t waste a lot of energy.”

The Bruins took the doubles point with wins on courts one and two.

The first doubles win was on court two with No. 16 duo senior Austin Rapp and freshman Keegan Smith trouncing Idaho’s doubles pair of Lucas Coutinho and Esteban Santibanez.

The No. 29 duo of senior Martin Redlicki and sophomore Evan Zhu defeated Idaho’s Mark Kovacs and Carlos Longhi Neto 6-3, ending the round with an ace from Redlicki.

“We have been playing together for two years now, so we know each other’s tendencies,” Zhu said. “Our main focus is playing with a lot of energy and making those returns.”

UCLA continued its momentum into singles, taking the first set on every court.

On court two, No. 81 Zhu was the first to add the the Bruins’ lead, beating Idaho’s Felipe Fonesca 6-1, 6-1.

“I stayed locked in the entire time and didn’t play too many loose points,” Zhu said.

Junior Maxime Cressy put the Bruins up 3-0 when he defeated Santibanez 6-1, 6-1. Cressy credited most of his success to the two-week break and preparations prior the NCAA tournament.

“I was fired up mentally, which made me prepared for that match,” Cressy said. “A way for me to relax and play my best is to scream a lot to pump myself up.”

The match was clinched by No. 56 Smith, who defeated Longhi Neto 6-2, 6-2 following an injury timeout from Longhi Neto.

All of the matches on courts one, four, and six were all unfinished, with senior Logan Staggs being the only one to drop a set on court four.

No. 1 Redlicki was unable to close out unranked Kovacs on court one.

UCLA will advance to face San Diego in the second round of the NCAA regional Sunday afternoon. The last time these two teams met was in 2016 when the Bruins defeated the Toreros twice.

“I’m very impressed with the San Diego team and know we are going to have to play great tennis tomorrow to give us a chance to make it to Wake Forest,” Martin said.

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Sports reporter

Rae is currently a Sports reporter. She was previously a contributor on the men's tennis and men's water polo beats.

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