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Bruins in Paris

UCLA men’s tennis incoming freshman Kaylan Bigun secures French Open title

Incoming UCLA men’s tennis freshman Kaylan Bigun poses during a visit to UCLA. (Courtesy of Jan Kim Lim/UCLA Athletics)

By Kai Dizon

June 11, 2024 10:12 p.m.

Kaylan Bigun fell to his knees after Saturday’s final stroke.

He stood up the victor – letting out a yell toward the crowd with both arms held high – claiming his first Grand Slam.

“Enjoy the moment, enjoy the places,” Bigun said on Tennis Actu TV after the win. “I just try to check my boxes – mentally and with my game – and see where that takes me.”

Covered in sweat and red clay, the incoming UCLA men’s tennis incoming freshman clinched the junior boys’ French Open title – the first American to do so since 2015. Bigun has slotted in as the No. 1 class of 2024 recruit for two consecutive years, according to Tennis Recruiting Network, and the ITF ranked Bigun No. 1 in the junior rankings Monday.

“I’m just so ecstatic and proud of him,” said UCLA coach Billy Martin. “It really is an unbelievable accomplishment.”

Martin said he and Bigun text regularly as the incoming Bruin continues his journey across the globe – Bigun added that Wimbledon remains on the calendar following his success at the Roland-Garros.

The standout recruit’s commitment to UCLA was a product of his relationship with former Bruins Mackenzie McDonald and Marcos Giron – both of who won NCAA singles championships. Bigun added that he trains with Giron regularly at the U.S. Tennis Association Training Center in Carson, California.

“Both Mackie and Marcos did go to UCLA,” Bigun said. “When I was choosing where I was going to college I was obviously taking input from them and seeing how they developed at the school – really gave me a lot of confidence in their program and in their coaches, so that was setting it all in place.”

Home-schooled throughout his life, Bigun’s Dad encouraged him and his brother to play tennis from birth, adding that he’s spent the past year working with a mental coach at the urging of his Dad.

“I started tennis ever since I could open my eyes,” Bigun said. “My dad, when I was in the crib, you know how there’s a lullaby (mobile) and there’s toys (ornaments) – my dad took the toys out and put tennis balls.”

The West Hollywood local has been on a torrid stretch, winning 12 tournament matches in a row. His last loss came in March against Rudy Quan – another one of UCLA’s 2024 blue-chip recruits.

Quan’s win over Bigun in the J300 Indian Wells semifinals propelled him to a tournament victory and his first career title. The Thousand Oaks, California, local holds a 2-0 record over Bigun – beating him in the 2023 J300 Indian Wells tournament as well.

The Tennis Recruiting Network has ranked Quan top-four in his class every year from 2020-2023 before he began competing in men’s tournaments in 2024. In May, Quan made the quarterfinals of the Little Rock Challenger 75 before being defeated by 25-year-old Yuta Shimizu.

On Wednesday, the Bruins announced the signing of a third recruit – incoming freshman Leonard von Bismarck from Aumühle, Germany – when one year ago, UCLA had just one freshman, Spencer Johnson, joining the 2023-2024 campaign.

“Kaylan – he’s going to shoot to play number one,” Martin said. “As is Rudy Quan, as is Spencer Johnson, maybe, even possibly, (junior) Alex Hoogmartens. … I think we’ve got four incredibly capable young men that are going to be competitive. From a coach’s standpoint, that’s great.”

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