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Men’s tennis ends Pac-12 tournament with consolation match win over Washington

Junior Roscoe Bellamy won both of his singles matches in straight sets in the Pac-12 championships over the weekend for UCLA men’s tennis, winning Saturday 6-4, 6-4, and Sunday 6-0, 6-2. (Jefferson Alade/Daily Bruin)

Men's tennis


No. 4 seed UCLA3
No. 5 seed Arizona State4
No. 4 seed UCLA4
No. 8 seed Washington1

By Alexander Chesney

April 28, 2021 2:23 p.m.

After stumbling against the Sun Devils, the Bruins rebounded against the Huskies at the Pac-12 tournament.

No. 4 seed UCLA men’s tennis (13-6, 4-3 Pac-12) lost to No. 5 seed Arizona State (16-8, 3-4) in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego on Saturday by a score of 4-3. The early loss was followed by a 4-1 consolation match victory against No. 8 seed Washington (10-12, 1-6) on Sunday.

With the match against the Sun Devils tied at 3-3, the Bruins’ Pac-12 tournament future rested on the shoulders of junior Govind Nanda as he pushed his singles match against Nathan Ponwith into its third set. Nanda would go on to lose his match 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, ending UCLA’s chances to play in the Pac-12 tournament semifinal.

Earlier in the season, the Bruins defeated the Sun Devils 4-3 but had senior Keegan Smith in the lineup contributing to two of the four points. This time around, Smith was unavailable for UCLA because of an undisclosed injury.

“(I’m) a little unhappy we didn’t win that match against ASU,” said coach Billy Martin. “We knew it was going to be a tough battle – with Keegan before we barely got a victory there, so without him I knew we would be hard-pressed to get through with a win.”

To start the tournament, Nanda and sophomore Drew Baird were defeated in doubles play by Makey Rakotomalala and Tim Ruehl on court one, 6-3. The duo of senior Bryce Pereira and junior Patrick Zahraj beat their opponents 6-3, but the Bruins lost the doubles point to the Sun Devils after juniors Roscoe Bellamy and Mathew Tsolakyan lost to Christian Lerby and George Stoupe, 7-5.

Arizona State jumped out to a 2-0 lead as redshirt senior Ben Goldberg lost his singles match to Ruehl, 6-3, 6-2. However, UCLA came back as Bellamy defeated Max McKennon, and graduate transfer Sam Feit defeated Stoupe, each earning straight set victories by a score of 6-4 in both sets.

With the score even at two apiece, Zahraj lost his singles match against Lerby, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2. On court two, Baird earned a win in three sets over Rakotomalala, 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-2 to deadlock the score at three each before Nanda’s singles loss.

“I think everybody in singles really played well,” Martin said. “It comes back to that doubles point – obviously really ended up hurting us. It was the point that we needed to try and get the win.”

In their consolation match the next day, the Bruins lost the doubles point to the Huskies, with the duo of Baird and Nanda falling 6-2 and Pereira and Zahraj losing 6-3. Bellamy and Tsolakyan prevented the Bruins from getting swept in doubles play, earning a 6-3 victory.

Despite being behind 1-0, the Bruins were able to rattle off four straight victories in their singles matches to earn the win by a final score of 4-1. Tsolakyan won his match against Adam Torocsik on court five, 6-0, 5-7, 6-4, while Bellamy and Feit each won their singles match by identical scores of 6-0, 6-2.

Bellamy, who has seen more playing time recently because of injuries within the team, has been making the most of his opportunities, according to Martin. Bellamy said the reason for his success has been his dedication to his craft.

“Definitely putting in the hours and just working on my game, talking about it a lot with my coaches and … fighting hard – that’s just the biggest thing, really giving my all on the court,” Bellamy said. “We’re trying to give ourselves the highest chance of success and if that takes going out there and hitting a few more serves or a few more forehands or just working on some selective shots then we’re going do what needs to be done.”

UCLA was scheduled to play No. 6 seed Oregon in a fifth-place consolation match following its victory over Washington but it was canceled because of rain. The Bruins now await their seeding in the NCAA tournament, which will be announced Monday.

“Hopefully we can be reminiscent of our basketball team – I think they were a great replica of what a scrappy hardworking team can possibly accomplish in an NCAA tournament,” Martin said. “We’d be happy to try and replicate them.”

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Alexander Chesney | Sports contributor
Chesney is currently a Sports contributor on the men's tennis beat.
Chesney is currently a Sports contributor on the men's tennis beat.
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