The Bruins have passed the halfway point in fall play.
After taking last week off, UCLA men’s tennis will send eight players to compete in two separate tournaments. Five Bruins will head to the Jack Kramer Fall Invitational in Rolling Hills Estates, California, while the remaining three will head to Las Vegas for the Larry Easley Memorial Classic.
UCLA will have just two more fall tournaments after this weekend before it kicks off its dual match season in January.
Redshirt freshman Blaine Hovenier – who did not see match action last year – is one of the three Bruins heading to Las Vegas from Friday through Sunday. This season, Hovenier has already seen playing time in two tournaments, tallying a 3-4 singles record.
“My goal is to just keep riding the wave,” Hovenier said. “I feel like I’m playing pretty well right now and doing all the right things in practice to get better, so I just want to keep doing that.”
Assistant coach Rikus De Villiers said he and the coaching staff have been impressed with Hovenier in the preseason and his growth as a player since entering the program.
“(Hovenier)’s one of the hardest workers who’s here more than probably anyone else, trying to do extra things,” De Villiers said. “Hard work is a big factor for success in any field, and he’s working really hard and improving a lot.”
Senior Ben Goldberg will be playing at the Jack Kramer Fall Invitational after playing in the ITA Regional Championships two weeks ago. He won his first two matches before withdrawing due to a minor injury concern in the round of 16.
Goldberg said he is still mentally prepared to compete despite the team taking a week off from competition.
“I feel like I’m in a good place mentally and physically with my tennis,” Goldberg said. “I just want to always stay locked in.”
Last year, Goldberg went 11-12 overall in singles and 5-10 in doubles. Goldberg said many of his upcoming opponents in fall play will be looking to take down competition from programs like UCLA.
“In these fall tournaments, us being UCLA, (we) have a little bit of an extra target on (our) backs,” Goldberg said.
Sophomores Mathew Tsolakyan, Eric Hahn, Patrick Zahraj and junior Connor Hance round out the Bruin squad that is headed to the Jack Kramer invitational.
Sophomore Max Wild and redshirt junior Connor Rapp will join Hovenier in Las Vegas.
The Jack Kramer Fall Invitational will start Thursday and the Larry Easley Memorial Tournament will start Friday.