Men’s tennis’ losing streak extends to 3 after falling to USC
Freshman Govind Nanda stepped into the No. 1 doubles against USC and was the only Bruin to pick up a victory in singles, besting USC’s Laurens Verboven. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin)
|No. 14 UCLA||1|
|No. 24 USC||4|
By Jared Tay
Feb. 23, 2019 4:13 p.m.
The Bruins have lost three matches in the span of a week.
No. 14 UCLA men’s tennis (4-4) fell to its crosstown rival No. 24 USC (7-5) by a score of 4-1 at Marks Tennis Stadium on Friday afternoon. The Bruins lost their two previous matches to then-No. 1 Wake Forest and then-No. 15 Texas Christian last weekend in Chicago at the Oracle ITA Division I National Men’s Team Indoor Championship.
“We had quite a few opportunities,” said coach Billy Martin. “We let those slip away, and you can’t against good teams. You have to take advantage of them. You don’t get a lot of (opportunities) against good teams.”
Freshman Govind Nanda, who is ranked No. 53 in singles, filled the vacant spot in the No. 1 doubles team left by the injured sophomore Keegan Smith. Nanda and senior Maxime Cressy faced the Trojan pair Brandon Holt and Riley Smith, who is ranked No. 21 in doubles. The match was left unfinished with the Bruins trailing 5-4.
“We got off to a slow start,” Nanda said. “The conditions were tough out here, it was a little windy. I didn’t put enough first serves into the box, and I shouldn’t have gotten broken.”
The team of junior Ben Goldberg and redshirt sophomore Connor Rapp filled the No. 3 doubles spot for the Bruins. The duo fell to the pair of Bradley Frye and Tanner Smith by a score of 6-2.
“Our start wasn’t slow at all,” Goldberg said. “Both service games we had deuce points that were break points, and if we (can hold), get the 30-40 point and break serve, we’re running with it. We got bad luck, they hit big serves, but we’re super close. If we get that one point, it’s different.”
The Bruins would drop the doubles point after another loss at No. 2 doubles and trailed the Trojans 1-0 going into singles play.
In the No. 6 singles spot, freshman Eric Hahn found himself trailing USC’s Jake Sands, losing his first set 6-0. Hahn would then be defeated in his second set with a score of 6-3.
Martin said young players, like Hahn, need to take advantage of the opportunities they are given in the starting lineup.
“Hahn was a little bit ‘deer in the headlights’,” Martin said. “First ‘SC match at USC, he was not himself at all. It was very low-quality of what he is capable of.”
Freshman Patrick Zahraj took on USC’s Logan Smith, who is ranked No. 45 in singles on the No. 3 court. Zahraj was unsuccessful in fighting off a set point on deuce at 4-5, giving the Trojans a first set victory. Zahraj would be defeated 6-4, 6-2.
Goldberg faced off against Riley Smith in the No. 4 singles spot. Goldberg found himself down one set, losing the first set 6-1, but bounced back in the second and forced a tiebreak at 6-6. Smith quickly went ahead by four points in the tiebreak and would eventually emerge victorious, 6-1, 7-6 (3). Goldberg’s loss sealed the match for USC.
Goldberg said, despite the defeat, he was happy with how he fought during the match.
“(Riley Smith started the tiebreak) with three good points,” Goldberg said. “But during the second set, I had two set points, both deuce points. He hit aces both times. Bad luck again.”
Nanda was the only Bruin to emerge victorious on the day, defeating Laurens Verboven, who is ranked No. 23 in singles, 6-2, 6-3.
“We have to learn from this experience and just move forward,” Hahn said.
The Bruins will continue nonconference play with a match against Grand Canyon at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on Tuesday.