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UCLA men’s tennis bounces back in consolation match at ITA Kickoff Weekend

UCLA men’s tennis junior Drew Baird prepares to hit the ball during a match against Saint Mary’s on Tuesday. Baird won his singles match against Texas Tech on Sunday to give the Bruins a 4-3 victory over the Red Raiders. (Joseph Jimenez/Daily Bruin)

Men's tennis

No. 23 UCLA3
No. 19 Texas A&M4
No. 23 UCLA4
Texas Tech0

By Alexander Chesney

Jan. 31, 2022 5:37 p.m.

The Bruins split their meetings between a pair of opponents from the Lone Star State in their first road trip of the dual match season.

No. 23 UCLA men’s tennis (2-1) traveled to College Station, Texas, for the ITA Kickoff Weekend where it lost 4-0 to No. 19 Texas A&M (4-0) in the opening round before beating Texas Tech (3-2) by a score of 4-3 in the consolation match.

Coach Billy Martin said Texas A&M’s home-court advantage made a difference in Saturday’s match.

“We just came up against a team that was good and probably didn’t feel like we played as well as I think we’re capable of, but, consequently, it meant that we lost,” Martin said. “Nothing horrible but probably playing at their place didn’t help us with the crowd and all that.”

The Bruins began their road trip by dropping the doubles point against the Aggies. The duo of junior Drew Baird and senior Max Wild lost to Giulio Perego and Raphael Perot 6-3, and freshman Alexander Hoogmartens and redshirt senior Bryce Pereira fell to Noah Schachter and Austin Abbrat by the same score.

In singles play, Baird lost to Schachter 6-2, 6-3, while freshman Giacomo Revelli was defeated by Matthis Ross 6-3, 2-6, 6-1. The Bruins’ deficit continued to grow with sophomore Stefan Leustian losing to Guido Marson 7-5, 6-4, eliminating UCLA from ITA National Team Indoor Championship contention with the Texas A&M sweep.

The following day, UCLA bounced back from its loss to pick up a win against Texas Tech.

Martin said the young team showed a lot of grit and determination after dropping Saturday’s match to Texas A&M.

“Some of the younger guys were a little intimidated being in their first real, away match,” Martin said. “We responded really tremendously, happy that the guys didn’t hang their head and came back and and fought really hard (Sunday) and won a tough match.”

In doubles play against Texas Tech, Baird and Wild teamed up on court three to defeat Piotr Pawlak and Takeyasu Sekiguchi 6-3, while Hoogmartens and Pereira took down Isaac Arevalo and Reed Collier 6-4 on court one to clinch the doubles point.

Revelli won the first singles match for the Bruins on court four with a 6-1, 6-3 decision. Senior Patrick Zahraj also clinched a straight-sets win to give UCLA three match points.

“I pushed down the pedal right from the beginning,” Zahraj said. “All in all, very satisfied with the win and very happy that it contributed to our win today.”

The Bruins had to rely on the final singles match of the day to clinch the win, as singles losses from freshman Karl Lee, Hoogmartens and Leustian tied the match at three apiece.

With all other matches finished and the score tied, UCLA watched as Baird – the last man standing – came back after being down 5-2 in the deciding set against Arevalo on court one. Baird broke Arevalo’s serve at 3-5 and 5-5 to win 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Baird said his coach reminding him to pay attention to his match while others were still going helped him concentrate and pull out the win.

“At that point, there were two or three other matches still being played. (I was) just trying to focus on my court,” Baird said. “I was just trying to do what I could to help the team in case things didn’t go well.”

UCLA will be back on the road next weekend to face California and Stanford in the Bay Area.

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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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