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Alexander Hoogmartens reaches consolation singles final at fall championships

Alexander Hoogmartens of UCLA men’s tennis hits a baseline backhand. The sophomore wrapped his fall campaign at the ITA Fall National Championships, failing to notch a win in the singles main draw. (Anya Yakimenko/Daily Bruin staff)

By Jack Nelson

Nov. 12, 2022 4:30 p.m.

Forced to withdraw from their final two team events, the Bruins put on a one-man show to cap off their fall campaign.

Alexander Hoogmartens represented UCLA men’s tennis at the ITA National Fall Championships in San Diego, which ran from Nov. 2 to Nov. 6. The sophomore earned a bid into the ITA’s biggest tournament of the fall by virtue of his finalist finish at the ITA Southwest Regional Championships on Oct. 24.

Originally scheduled to send contingencies of players to both the Dennis Rizza and Easley Memorial Classics, the Bruins ultimately elected not to participate in either. The team needed four players available to travel to Las Vegas for the latter event, but with Hoogmartens making the draw at the fall championships and the Dennis Rizza Classic fast approaching, the Easley Memorial Classic was no longer feasible.

Then, an outbreak of a non-COVID-19 illness on the team left UCLA with no choice but to withdraw from the Easley Memorial Classic as well, according to coach Billy Martin.

“Nothing major, but just unfortunate,” Martin said. “We’re pretty slim teamwise this year. … We’ve got eight or nine guys on the roster right now, but two guys coming in January, so we’ll be a little bit more full-force then.”

No. 23 Hoogmartens – who had previously strung together five wins in the singles bracket at the southwest regionals – faced South Carolina’s Casey Hoole in first-round action at the fall championships but was handed a 6-3, 6-0 upset by his unranked opponent.

Luckily for the Bruin, a second chance was in store.

The consolation bracket placed Hoogmartens into a matchup with David Cierny of Utah State, and the man donning the blue and gold prevailed in a 6-3, 6-2 victory. The player awaiting him in the back draw quarterfinals was responsible for ending Hoogmartens’ run weeks earlier – a crosstown rival that the Bruin had led one set to none in the title match.

Yet a walkover stripped Hoogmartens of his opportunity for revenge against USC’s No. 41 Peter Makk.

“I was actually a little sad that we couldn’t play because I was ready for him,” Hoogmartens said. “It’s always exciting to play USC guys, especially considering I saw him at regionals two weeks before.”

Nonetheless, the walkover allowed Hoogmartens to advance to the back draw semifinals with neither the toss of a tennis ball nor the swing of a racket. And the wins would keep coming, as Nathan Han of Oklahoma was upended by Hoogmartens in a 6-3, 7-5 decision to posit a consolation title bout with Columbia’s Michael Zheng.

Though he added one more game to his tally this time around, Hoogmartens’ second and final loss of the tournament came at the hands of another unranked foe. Zheng claimed the consolation prize over the Bruin with a 6-1, 6-3 win.

Hoogmartens ultimately completed his fall season with an 11-6 standing – including an 8-4 mark in singles play – across the ITA’s trio of intercollegiate fall tournaments.

Martin said his returning No. 1 singles player has encountered the challenges that come with regularly battling the nation’s finest.

“There’s a lot of disbelief sometimes when you’re playing guys that are three, four, five years older that you’ve looked up to throughout the junior years,” Martin said. “It’s a maturity process and a learning process. (It) doesn’t mean he’s going to win all these matches, but you’ve got to believe it before it possibly can happen.”

The Bruins are set to enter the holiday break before dual-match action commences early in the new year.

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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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