Men’s tennis bounces back with victories against Oregon and Washington
While he didn’t play in any doubles matches over the weekend for No. 36 UCLA men’s tennis, redshirt senior Ben Goldberg split his singles matches, losing 6-1, 7-5 on Friday and winning 3-6, 6-4, 10-7 on Saturday. (Ashley Kenney/Assistant Photo editor)
|No. 49 Oregon||2|
|No. 36 UCLA||5|
|No. 36 UCLA||7|
By Jack Nelson
April 5, 2021 2:07 p.m.
After losing their first Pac-12 match in nearly six years, the Bruins responded with back-to-back wins against conference foes from the north.
No. 36 UCLA men’s tennis (10-3, 4-1 Pac-12) upended No. 49 Oregon (13-4, 1-4) 5-2 on Friday, followed by a 7-0 sweep of Washington (9-9, 0-5) on Saturday. The home wins come after the Bruins fell to Arizona a week ago – their first conference loss since April 2015.
The Bruins started their first of three matches in five days by dropping the doubles point against the Ducks but proceeding to register five consecutive wins in singles play. The decisive fourth point was provided by sophomore Drew Baird, who defeated Quinn Vandecasteele 6-4, 6-4 on court three singles. With the victory, UCLA advanced to a 30-0 all-time record against Oregon.
Against the Huskies, the Bruins did what they were unable to do a day prior and secured the 1-0 advantage. The first result came on court three, where the junior tandem of Roscoe Bellamy and Mathew Tsolakyan served the 6-0 bagel to Washington’s Han-Chih Lin and Ewen Lumsden. The senior duo of Keegan Smith and Bryce Pereira then dispatched Thibault Cancel and Jack Davis 6-3 on court one to send the match to singles play.
UCLA has claimed six of its 12 potential doubles points thus far on the season, but coach Billy Martin doesn’t anticipate much change in the doubles lineup going forward.
“I’m pretty committed to this lineup,” Martin said. “We’ve been without (junior) Patrick Zahraj since our USC match way back, but he’s healthy and playing again. That would be the only person that I see us injecting into the doubles lineup as we move forward.”
The Bruins backed up their doubles win by dropping just one set in singles play. Junior Govind Nanda, graduate transfer student Sam Feit, Smith, Baird and Tsolakyan all collected straight-set victories over their respective opponents. The outlier was redshirt senior Ben Goldberg, who lost his first set 6-3 to Washington’s Lin but bounced back to take the second 6-4 and clinched the sweep by prevailing 10-7 in the tiebreaker.
Goldberg acknowledged the toughness of his recent opponents, and said he sees his comeback victory Saturday as a confidence booster.
“It was good for my confidence, no doubt. I’ve been running into some tough outs lately,” Goldberg said. “I’ve been playing a lot of people, and sometimes you’ve got to stay too good.”
Tsolakyan provided the most lopsided singles win of the day for the Bruins, cruising past Adam Torocsik to the tune of 6-0, 6-1. With his latest triumph, Tsolakyan improved his singles record to 9-1 on the season – the best such record of any player on the team. Tsolakyan attributed this success to his in-the-moment mentality.
“I’m not thinking about all the records and all that,” Tsolakyan said. “Just taking it one match at a time helps me focus better on the match ahead every single time.”
Martin said he has been impressed with how Tsolakyan has developed his strengths and been a model of improvement in his time with the program.
“He’s got some great strengths – as good a forehand on our team as anyone, and being a lefty with his serve is an advantage in my opinion,” Martin said. “He’s just improved, and that’s what we want our players to do throughout their years here, and he’s really epitomized that.”
With three Pac-12 matches remaining on its regular-season schedule, UCLA sits at fourth place in the conference standings, behind Stanford (6-3, 3-0), No. 17 Arizona (17-5, 4-1) and No. 16 USC (16-5, 4-1).
With the postseason fast approaching, Goldberg said the Bruins’ future opponents should be concerned.
“We have so much potential, and I don’t think people are going to want to play us come May,” Goldberg said.