#5 UCLA Men’s Tennis (19-5, 6-0)
Opponent: Army West Point (21-9, 6-1)
When: 1:00 PM PT, Friday, May 12, 2017
Where: Sunset Canyon Tennis Courts, Los Angeles, CA
Live Stats: UCLA Statbroadcast
The Bruins' 11-match winning streak came to a screeching halt against Southern Cal in the finals of the Pac-12 Tournament.
UCLA has had nearly two weeks to think about that loss and to prepare for what should be a strong tournament run. Unfortunately, the Bruins will have to do it without their team captain and top-ranked player, Gage Brymer. Brymer will miss the NCAA Tournament due to injury, which means that Martin Redlicki will likely be moved up to court 1.
It goes without saying that life without Brymer will be difficult for the Bruins. While I didn't believe that UCLA Men's Tennis had a realistic shot at a national title in 2017 prior to Brymer's injury, I did think that the Bruins would make a deep run in the tourney. Without Brymer, three tournament victories is probably the ceiling for this team. As much as I'd love to see the Bruins prove me wrong, Wake Forest and Virginia appear to be at least a notch better than the rest of the field.
There's also a good possibility that the Bruins will struggle to adapt to the loss of Brymer, and that their postseason may not survive the weekend as a consequence. I think that UCLA has enough quality depth to advance from the regional, but beyond that, I'm not optimistic.
With Brymer unavailable, Redlicki is the only Bruin who appears in the Oracle/ITA Division I Collegiate Rankings of the nation's top 125 players. Redlicki is currently ranked 56th.
UCLA's only ranked doubles team isn't affected by Brymer's absence; Redlicki & Evan Zhu are now the nation's third ranked pair.
In spite of the difficulty the Bruins will have in adapting to new roles, Army West Point shouldn't pose a serious threat in today's first-round match. After that, though, the Bruins' challenge of advancing through the bracket without their captain becomes extremely difficult.