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Bruins in Paris

UCLA men’s tennis defeats UC Irvine without highest-ranked singles player

Jeffrey Fradkin gives a triumphant yell after winning a point. The redshirt sophomore for UCLA men’s tennis advanced to 4-2 in 2023 dual-match doubles play with a win against UC Irvine on Saturday. (Julia Zhou/Daily Bruin)

Men's Tennis

UC Irvine1

By Garrison Hallum

Feb. 12, 2023 2:09 p.m.

Even without their top singles player, the Bruins were able to do to the Anteaters what they’d been doing for decades: win.

UCLA men’s tennis (5-1) defeated UC Irvine (0-3) on Saturday, emerging victorious with a 6-1 final score at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. The blue and gold surrendered just one point in a series it has not lost in over three decades.

UCLA entered the matchup without No. 15 sophomore Alexander Hoogmartens, the squad’s highest-ranked player in the ITA singles rankings. Despite Hoogmartens’ absence, the Bruins took the first set of every singles matchup en route to five of six singles victories.

Coach Billy Martin said his team showed character in the face of Hoogmartens’ absence.

“We didn’t have Alex with us today. I knew it would make it tougher for us to get the win,” Martin said. “But I knew it was going to be a real character test for the rest of the guys – it was really important for me to see that transpire in the match.”

Martin added that his team knew what was necessary to secure a victory against Irvine and that execution of that knowledge was key.

“There’s not a lot of mystery so far as how somebody plays. We all know each other with this team,” Martin said. “We felt confident that if we came out and played good tennis, we had a very good chance to win.”

The blue and gold began the match by sweeping all three doubles competitions. Sophomore Giacomo Revelli and redshirt senior Patrick Zahraj were the first to finish with a 6-1 victory. And though they played a more tightly-contested match, redshirt sophomore Jeffrey Fradkin and freshman Aadarsh Tripathi snagged the doubles point with their 6-4 performance.

Zahraj said he felt his doubles performance was one of his strongest of the season.

“I was happy how Giacomo and I came out in doubles. It was definitely one of our better performances this year,” Zahraj said. “It always feels good to get a decisive win and start off strong to give the other courts confidence looking at the scoreboard.”

Zahraj translated his success on the doubles front to singles play, where, playing in place of Hoogmartens, he notched a 6-4, 6-2 triumph on court one.

The redshirt senior said he was pleased with the way he was able to create early leads in his matches.

“There weren’t moments where it looked like I needed to come from behind. I always kept a foot on the gas pedal,” Zahraj said. “It was a great guy and great opponent. I knew I just needed to stick to the gameplay.”

Fradkin also won both his singles and doubles matches. After partnering with Tripathi to win his doubles match, Fradkin secured a singles victory with a 7-6, 6-0 finish.

Fradkin said his first set win in singles gave him the confidence to finish the match victorious.

“It definitely gave me some confidence when I won the first set to loosen up and play more of my game,” Fradkin said. “It’s another step forward for us, and it’s going to be a long season.”

The Bruins will hit the court next against Gonzaga on Friday, Feb. 24, at 1 p.m., with the opportunity to remain unbeaten at home this season.

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Garrison Hallum | Sports contributors
Hallum is currently a contributor on the track & field and swim & dive beats.
Hallum is currently a contributor on the track & field and swim & dive beats.
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