UCLA men’s tennis’ Alexander Hoogmartens earns spot in NCAA championships
Freshman Alexander Hoogmartens stretches to hit a forehand. In his first postseason action with UCLA men’s tennis, he will play in the NCAA singles championship starting Monday. (Anya Yakimenko/Daily Bruin)
May 23, 2022 12:13 p.m.
Coming from Beersel, Belgium, Alexander Hoogmartens said he had some reservations when he first arrived in Westwood.
Now, the freshman stands as the lone Bruin heading to the individual championships.
“He was quite nervous about the team situation at the very beginning in our matches, he readily admitted that to us,” said coach Billy Martin. “He’s matured greatly (and) ended up taking over at (the) number one singles spot.”
Representing UCLA men’s tennis, No. 35 Hoogmartens will take on No. 33 Brian Cernoch of North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA singles championships May 23 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The freshman is the first Bruin to be invited to the tournament since 2019.
On March 30, Hoogmartens earned player of the week honors after scoring victories against then No. 2 Arthur Fery of Stanford and then No. 102 Yuta Kikuchi of California. After earning a 9-4 overall record and going 4-2 against nationally-ranked opponents, Hoogmartens was voted to the Pac-12 All-Conference First Team, the first UCLA freshman to receive the honor since Daniel Kosakowski in 2011.
“Especially my first year, that’s very cool,” Hoogmartens said. “That makes me really happy and even more motivated for next year to achieve more.”
Hoogmartens’ first campaign with the blue and gold was cut short by an injury that sidelined him for the last eight matches of the season. Although he has not played a dual match since April 9, Hoogmartens enters the main draw of the tournament ranked No. 35 in the latest ITA singles rankings.
After beginning the season at the No. 2 spot in the singles lineup for the Bruins, Hoogmartens earned the top spot after defeating No. 14 Luc Fomba of TCU on March 10 and went 4-2 at the position before his injury.
With a year with the Bruins now under his belt, Hoogmartens said his playing has improved thanks to consistency.
“Compared to last year, I’m super consistent,” Hoogmartens said. “There was always the issue (of) being consistent, and now, I’ve played such a good season. I’m way better, I’m serving better. Overall, I’m just way better.”
After dropping a match against Stanford’s Alexandre Rotsaert in early February, Hoogmartens won eight of the final 10 matches he completed. His success through the middle of the season earned him a career-high ITA ranking of No. 23.
Martin said competing in the singles tournament this year is hopefully just the beginning of Hoogmartens’ reign over college tennis.
“I think the best thing about it is going to be he’ll gain really good experience,” Martin said. “He’s the type of player that’s going to play this for the next three years after this and probably have a really good chance to win the tournament.”