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Men’s tennis claims 2 wins to close out regular season undefeated in Pac-12 play

Senior Maxime Cressy played his last regular-season dual match for the Bruins against Arizona. Cressy finished the regular season with 12 singles wins and three losses, playing every match at the No. 1 spot in the lineup. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin)

Men's volleyball


No. 14 UCLA4
Arizona2
No. 14 UCLA4
Arizona1

By Jared Tay

April 21, 2019 3:55 p.m.

The Bruins posted an unblemished Pac-12 record for the fourth consecutive season.

No. 14 UCLA men’s tennis (16-4, 8-0 Pac-12) added to their conference win column with two victories over No. 27 Arizona State (13-11, 4-3) and No. 24 Arizona (17-6, 3-5) on Friday and Saturday by scores of 4-2 and 4-1, respectively. The two wins pushed the Bruins’ conference record to eight wins in as many games and first place in the conference.

“I didn’t have very high expectations at the beginning of this season,” said coach Billy Martin. “If anyone had remotely said, ‘You’ll go on and win the conference, undefeated in the regular season,’ I would not have believed them.”

Doubles play against Arizona State began with the freshman Patrick Zahraj and sophomore Bryce Pereira falling 6-3 to Arizona State’s Makey Rakotomalala and Justin Roberts. The No. 5-ranked doubles team of senior Maxime Cressy and sophomore Keegan Smith won their match 6-4 before the No. 2 doubles team for the Bruins fell 6-4.

Smith claimed a singles win over the Sun Devils’ Dominik Kellovsky, 6-4, 6-1. Cressy won his singles match 6-2, 6-3, and a win at No. 3 singles from freshman Govind Nanda put the Bruins one win away from the match victory.

Zahraj faced off against ASU’s Tim Ruehl on court four. After winning the first set 6-3, Zahraj dropped the second set by a score of 6-2. At 4-3 in the final set, Zahraj was able to break Ruehl’s serve and subsequently served out the match for the clincher.

“It doesn’t even feel like (serving out the match) is pressure,” Zahraj said. “It feels like a privilege (to get to that point). You played so hard and you played the way you wanted. It’s more of an enjoyable moment.”

Zahraj’s win was the clincher for the Bruins in their win over USC on April 5. Martin said he was comfortable with Zahraj being in a similar situation this weekend.

“(A clinching situation) is something that you hope doesn’t happen to your freshmen,” Martin said. “You win some of those and you lose some of those, but Zahraj had been there.”

Doubles play against Arizona began with a 6-2 win by Cressy and Smith over Igor Karpovets and Jonas Ziverts. A win on court three by Zahraj and Pereira gave the Bruins the doubles point going into singles play.

Wins on the top courts in singles ultimately gave UCLA the victory. Cressy bested Ziverts 7-5, 6-3 on court one to claim the first victory for the Bruins.

“I had many break opportunities, but he came up with big shots and it was very frustrating,” Cressy said. “I’m sure he played some of his best tennis, but I stuck with it and focused on holding.”

Smith clinched the victory for the Bruins. After winning his first set 6-1, the second set was won in a tiebreaker by his opponent Filip Malbasic. Smith went up a break in the third set to make the score 5-3 and he would go on to serve out the match.

Cressy is the only senior on the Bruin roster and he was honored after the match against Arizona as a part of UCLA’s annual Senior Day festivities. Martin said Cressy worked his way up to the top singles spot and is a role model for the rest of the team.

“I want my own personal kids and the rest of the team to have (Cressy’s attitude),” Martin said. “It does my heart good to see him succeed and hope that we at UCLA were a small part of the equation.”

The Bruins will travel to Ojai, California, to compete as the No. 1 seed in the Pac-12 championships starting Wednesday.

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Jared Tay | Sports senior staff
Tay is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the men's basketball beat. He was previously an assistant Sports editor for the baseball, men's soccer, men's tennis, cross country and women's tennis beats. Tay was previously a contributor on the men's tennis beat.
Tay is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the men's basketball beat. He was previously an assistant Sports editor for the baseball, men's soccer, men's tennis, cross country and women's tennis beats. Tay was previously a contributor on the men's tennis beat.
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