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Bruins in Paris

Spencer Johnson cements season’s 1st top-10 win for UCLA men’s tennis

Spencer Johnson serves the ball. The freshman clinched UCLA’s victory – for the second time this season – Sunday afternoon with a singles win. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Men's Tennis

No. 10 Harvard3

By Lamar Tuker

March 19, 2024 5:31 p.m.

Spencer Johnson held the key to the Bruins’ fate for the second time this season.

Only this time, familiarity was on his side.

“I felt a little calmer this time, and I was able to lock in just a little better than I thought versus the Pepperdine match and not be as tight as that one,” the freshman said.

No. 24 UCLA men’s tennis (7-4) recovered from back-to-back losses and snapped No. 10 Harvard’s (13-5) six-game win streak Sunday afternoon at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. The Bruins’ 4-3 win marked their first over a top-10 team this season.

Up 3-2 with two singles matches still in play, junior Giacomo Revelli’s 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 loss to Henry von der Schulenberg placed UCLA’s hopes on Johnson’s shoulders.

Coach Billy Martin said, when putting himself back in the moment, he was uncertain how the match would unfold.

“It looks like we’re probably going to lose,” Martin said. “But Spencer has the heart to do it. It’s the second time now that he’s done that for us.”

Despite dropping the first set 6-4, Johnson recovered in the second with a 7-6(5) victory over Daniel Milavsky. And in a push-and-pull third set, Johnson clinched the match with an ace as his teammates flooded the court to congratulate the young champion.

Prior to Johnson’s win, two Bruins secured singles points for the Bruins – sophomore Gianluca Ballotta and junior Alexander Hoogmartens. On the doubles front, both Bruin duos – Hoogmartens and redshirt senior Govind Nanda, and Johnson and redshirt freshman Emon van Loben Sels – took 6-3 wins over their Ivy League foes.

Sunday marked Hoogmartens’ return to court since losing his singles match against Oklahoma State on Jan. 30. This time around, the Beersel, Belgium, local didn’t allow his opponent more than two points in the second or third sets, finishing the bout 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

“This match was a really good one,” Hoogmartens said. “I didn’t expect to actually play at first, and then winning makes it even better.”

Martin said the victory is a testament to the Bruins’ grit.

“It was fabulous. We needed a big win like this. Our guys need to really be shown that we can beat these top teams, but it takes a lot of heart ,” said coach Billy Martin. “That match was a roller coaster ride.”

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