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Bruin alumni return titleless from a Wimbledon tournament full of upsets

Maxime Cressy reaches for a forehand in a match for UCLA men’s tennis. The former Bruin, who played for the program from 2015-2019, was one of six UCLA tennis alumni active at Wimbledon and knocked out No. 6 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in the opening round. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Jack Nelson

July 10, 2022 3:09 p.m.

This post was updated July 10 at 11:30 p.m.

Following a slam in which two former Bruins brought home hardware, all six active at Wimbledon left empty-handed.

Now-pro alumni of UCLA men’s and women’s tennis went a combined 8-11 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club from June 27 to Sunday. None saw fourth-round action at the third major of the year after Ena Shibahara and Jean-Julien Rojer grabbed the mixed doubles and men’s doubles titles, respectively, at the French Open a month prior.

In the men’s singles slate, those who once donned the blue and gold saw success in the opening round. The trio of world No. 45 Maxime Cressy, No. 55 Mackenzie McDonald and No. 65 Marcos Giron all commenced play June 28, and each advanced. However, all three would fall in second-round action two days later.

Cressy launched one of the biggest upsets at this year’s Wimbledon, upending No. 6 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(9), 7-6(5) in his first ever main-draw match at SW19. Fresh off a runner-up performance at the Rothesay International Eastbourne, Cressy charged the net 134 times against the Canadian, 120 of which were serve-and-volley points. He was awarded 71% of points at the net en route to his first top-10 win on tour.

Fellow American Jack Sock took down Cressy and was able to overcome his serve-and-volley style of play in the next round, beating the former Bruin 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(1) and halting any hope at a deep run on the heels of the upset.

Giron also championed his own Cinderella moment via a 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 defeat of world No. 29 Holger Rune before entering the second round at Wimbledon for a second consecutive year. The sweep was served back to him in his next match when Alex Molcan sent Giron home with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 defeat.

McDonald, on the other hand, was pitted against lucky loser Nuno Borges in his first-round match. He kicked off his run with a 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(3) straight-set win – reaching the second round at Wimbledon for the second time in his career to join Cressy and Giron. Despite McDonald’s opening-round sweep, French veteran and world No. 69 Richard Gasquet would prove too much for the former Bruin in the following matchup, serving McDonald a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 loss.

Four UCLA alumni took the court in the men’s doubles draw, but none made it out of the first round.

Cressy and Feliciano Lopez suffered a straight-set defeat at the hands of Polish duo Lukasz Kubot and Szymon Walkow, 6-2, 7-5, 6-3. Giron was also unable to match his singles success, dropping his first-round match with partner James Duckworth 6-3, 6-7(10), 6-1, 6-2 to Kazakhstani-Pakistani competitors Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi.

Joining forces with Botic van de Zandschulp, McDonald came within one set of the second round but was ultimately dealt a reverse sweep by No. 7 seed John Peers and Filip Polasek in a 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 decision. Rojer – the only former Bruin seeded in the draw – entered the field as a No. 4 seed with partner Marcelo Arevalo to reunite the recently crowned champions of Roland Garros.

Standing in their way was an American tandem featuring a man who would prove to be the Bruin killer of the tournament.

Sock, who has 16 ATP doubles titles to his name since 2013, and his counterpart Dennis Kudla handed a 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-4 upset to Rojer and Arevalo, forcing UCLA alumni to settle for a collective 0-4 showing in men’s doubles. After knocking Rojer out of contention, Sock would go on to stop Cressy’s run in the singles bracket a day later.

On the side of women’s singles, Catherine Harrison’s Grand Slam debut was the sole representation for the blue and gold. Harrison, who played for UCLA women’s tennis from 2012 to 2016, won her first match at a major by means of a 6-1, 6-4 display against No. 86 Arantxa Rus. However, Harrison was defeated in the following round by No. 44 Ajla Tomljanovic, who bested the former Bruin 6-2, 6-2.

Shibahara, who partnered with Asia Muhammad, and Harrison, who joined forces with Sabrina Santamaria, each entered the women’s doubles draw at Wimbledon and notched opening-round victories. No. 5 seed Shibahara and Muhammad overcame Sarah Beth Gray and Yuriko Miyazaki 6-1, 6-1 and proceeded to triumph 6-1, 6-4 against Han Xinyun and Zhu Lin to reach the second week. The pair fell in the third round 6-4, 7-6(3) to No. 11 seed Alicja Rosolska and Erin Routliffe.

Harrison and Santamaria snagged a comeback win over Tamara Zidansek and Kaja Juvan in a 2-6, 6-4, 5-2 (retired) performance. Had the duo gone on to defeat their next opponent, Rosolska and Routliffe, they would have set up a UCLA women’s tennis alumni showdown with Shibahara and Muhammad. Instead, Harrison and Santamaria fell short in a tight 6-7(3), 7-5, 7-6(7) contest.

In mixed doubles action, Shibahara and Rojer assembled an all-former Bruin and all-French Open champion tandem, good for the No. 1 seed in the draw. The pair began its run with a 6-4, 7-6(10) win over Alexa Guarachi and Austin Krajicek but couldn’t turn its separate championship performances at the previous slam into a joint one. Shibahara and Rojer were upended by Matthew Ebden and Samantha Stosur 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4 in the second round.

UCLA men’s and women’s tennis alumni are expected to be active at the U.S. Open starting Aug. 29.

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Jack Nelson | Sports senior staff
Nelson is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats and a contributor on the men's tennis and women's tennis beats.
Nelson is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats and a contributor on the men's tennis and women's tennis beats.
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