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Back-to-back sweeps over Utah, UCSD extend UCLA men’s tennis winning streak

Coach Billy Martin applauds his team during a match. His squad finished its regular season with back-to-back 4-0 victories. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Chloe Agas

April 22, 2024 3:38 p.m.

This post was updated April 23 at 9:03 p.m.

Billy Martin’s squad was fueled by the pursuit of vengeance.

“You talk about revenge as a powerful motivator,” the coach said. “I think it was for our match on Friday.”

The Bruins had a shot to exact retribution against the Utes.

And the bullet landed.

No. 23 UCLA men’s tennis (14-6, 5-2 Pac-12) prevailed over Utah (3-19, 0-8) on Friday at the George S. Eccles Tennis Center. Last season, the Bruins fell 4-1 to the Utes in the Pac-12 championship, ending their tournament run just one game in. And to complete the final weekend of the regular season before the conference tournament, UCLA completed another 4-0 victory against UC San Diego (9-17, 2-3 Big West) at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.

Freshman Spencer Johnson and redshirt freshman Emon van Loben Sels commenced Friday’s play with a 6-4 escape in their doubles match. After players and staff considered the referee’s call on a smashing volley, cheers erupted from the first-year duo.

Meanwhile, a new doubles pairing took the court.

Battling alongside redshirt junior Timothy Li, senior Jorge Plans Gonzalez replaced junior Giacomo Revelli – who has competed as Li’s doubles partner throughout the year. The junior duo claimed only one doubles win this season compared to six out of 11 matches last season. Despite the switch, the tandem fell to Utah’s Dylan Applegate and Gianluca Citadini.

A service point from redshirt senior Govind Nanda clinched the doubles point for the Bruins. The co-captain duo of Nanda and junior Alexander Hoogmartens debuted this season and won nine of 19 matches.

In similar fashion, UCLA jumped to a 3-0 lead in singles action with tallies from Hoogmartens and Plans Gonzalez.

And Revelli – who bounced back from 0-4 in the first set – overcame Applegate with a striking forehand shot in the second to take the match-point clincher 7-5, 7-5.

(Julia Zhou/Photo editor)
Giacomo Revelli strikes a backhand. The junior completed his regular season with a narrow singles victory, marking his sixth of the season. (Julia Zhou/Photo editor)

Revelli said mental adaptation to conditions is key to prolonged rallies.

“The main thing is to use your mind and breathing to calm yourself somewhat in order to execute the longer points,” Revelli said. “It’s really about the mental game.”

Two days after what was the teams’ final Pac-12 bout of the regular season, the Bruins faced another familiar foe – the Tritons. The former outlasted the latter 4-0 on Sunday afternoon.

During the encounter, two duos made their season debut in doubles match play.

Redshirt junior Jeffrey Fradkin and Plans Gonzalez drilled a service point to cement a Bruin victory. Just 20 minutes prior, sophomore Aadarsh Tripathi and Li were the first to score, marking their first time in action together – and Tripathi’s first doubles contest of the season.

Tripathi said balanced teamwork is a testament to their chemistry on the court.

“Timo did a great job keeping me in check and focused. All credit goes to him,” Tripathi said. “He calms me down, and I fire him up. He improved me, and I improved him.”

Tripathi also mustered a victory in singles, recording the final point of the match with a down-the-line forehand shot. The last time he participated in match play was against Arizona State in March.

“I’m happy being out there again,” Tripathi said. “I love playing for UCLA, and it was my dream growing up. It was a great, great environment.”

Nanda and Johnson crafted their own singles tallies, spurring the Bruins to a sweep of the Tritons.

“We’re on a great winning streak as a team,” Revelli said. “We all feel this positive wave of wins, and we’re all ready for what’s to come.”

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