Weekend in Preview: Feb. 8
(Andy Bao/Daily Bruin)
Dylan D’Souza, Daily Bruin contributor
The Bruins have dropped only one point in their first four duels but will face some of the best teams in the country this weekend.
No. 8 UCLA women’s tennis (4-0) will travel to Seattle to participate in the ITA national indoor championships. The tournament will be held at University of Washington’s Nordstrom Tennis Center and at the Seattle Tennis Club.
UCLA won both of its matches during the ITA Kick-off Weekend to qualify for the ITA Team Indoors. 15 teams qualified for the event by winning their respective 2019 ITA Kick-Off Weekend four-team regional, while Washington received an automatic bid for serving as the host site.
“To practice, we switched out the balls every 30 minutes,” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “As you play, tennis balls get fluffier and slower so we tried to keep it real fast to practice for indoors.”
Nine of the top-10 teams in the nation are in the 16-team draw for the single-elimination tournament. UCLA is one of three teams representing the Pac-12 including No. 1 seed Stanford (3-0) and Washington (5-0).
UCLA will face No. 15 South Carolina (4-1) in the round of 16 on Friday. The Bruins lead the all-time series 3-0, including a 4-1 victory at the same tournament last year.
“I think (redshirt freshman Jada Hart) has a great game for indoors,” Sampras Webster said. “Many of our players have big serves and aggressive games which is suited for indoors.”
If UCLA defeats South Caroline, it will face the winner of seed Oklahoma State (4-3) and No. 2 seed North Carolina (6-0). However, due to an incoming snowstorm, all Saturday matches have been canceled, leaving the timing of the remainder of the tournament undetermined.
Track and field
Vinny Lavalsiti, Daily Bruin contributor
The Bruins will be splitting up for the weekend.
UCLA track and field will be sending athletes to two events: the Don Kirby Collegiate Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Husky Classic in Seattle.
Senior jumper CJ Alumbres and junior distance runner Robert Brandt are seeking top-16 qualifying marks in the triple jump and 5,000 meter, respectively, for the 2019 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation indoor championships in two weeks. Alumbres and Brandt fell outside the top-16 for last year’s nationals.
“Off the bat, I’m trying to get a national qualifying mark,” Alumbres said. “I think top-16 at (the time of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Collegiate Invitational) was (15.55 meters) which I was way capable of jumping that. I’ve always been in the lower rankings (nationally). I just really want to show everyone what I’m capable of doing.”
Brandt cracked UCLA’s top-3 all-time in the 5,000 meter at the 2018 Husky Classic with a time of 13:53.18.
“In order to make nationals, you have to be ready to go,” Brandt said. “(I need to) turn my focus into a competitive mindset a little bit earlier in the season and hopefully break into the top-16.”
Freshman sprinter Kazmeir Allen – who is also a running back for UCLA football – will run alongside Alumbres in the 60 meter. Alumbres only runs the event to warm up his legs, but Allen won the 2018 California Interscholastic Federation state championship 100-meter dash as a senior in high school with a time of 10.44.
Allen, Alumbres and the rest of the Bruins participating in the Husky Classic will only be competing Friday after an incoming snowstorm caused Saturday’s events to be rescheduled.
Jared Tay, Daily Bruin contributor
The Bruins will see ranked competition for the first time.
No. 7 UCLA men’s tennis (2-0) will face two Pac-12 opponents this weekend at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. Play against California (1-2) will take place Friday and UCLA will face off against No. 10 Stanford (4-1) on Saturday.
At the Sherwood Collegiate Cup in January, freshman Govind Nanda faced Stanford players in his first four rounds of competition. After winning the first three rounds, Nanda was eventually knocked out by the Cardinal’s No. 10 Axel Geller by scores of 4-6, 6-4, 3-6.
“You have Geller at No.1 and he’s just a big player all around. They are a solid team,” Nanda said.
Sophomore Keegan Smith also faced a Stanford opponent at the Sherwood tournament. In the semifinals, Smith played No. 61 Alexandre Rotsaert and was defeated 3-6, 6-7 (7-9).
“I’m going to get revenge,” Smith said. “I want to get the last word.”
The Bruins will also face off against Cal.
UCLA went up against members of Cal’s team at the UCSB Classic in early October. Sophomore Connor Hance, redshirt sophomore Connor Rapp and freshman Max Wild all encountered the Bears, but none of them emerged victorious.
“We can’t be looking past Cal,” coach Billy Martin said. “We’ve got to win against Cal and then fight Stanford.”