On Thursday, the UCLA Men’s Tennis team defeated Texas A&M, 4-1, to move on to the NCAA Quarterfinals today against Georgia. The Bulldogs advanced by edging 4th seed Southern Cal, 4-3.
Thursday’s match against the Aggies was a lot closer than the final score indicates. Austin Rapp and Joseph DiGiulio started the match off by defeating Hady Habib and Hady Habib, 6-1. But, Texas A&M won the second doubles match when Alexsandre Bakshi and Maxim Lunkin beat Maxime Cressy and Ben Goldberg, 6-4, to tie up the doubles portion of the match at one set each. As a result, the doubles point would be decided by the match between UCLA’s duo of Martin Redlicki and Evan Zhu and Texas A&M’s pair of AJ Catanzariti and Arthur Rinderknech.
And, it was a battle.
After ten games, the set was tied at 5-5. The Bruins took a 6-5 edge and, eventually, won the set 7-5 after Rinderknech returned a serve from Redlicki long to give the Bruins the doubles point.
In singles play, Zhu got UCLA their second point of the day on a straight-set win over Arconada, 6-4, 6-3. DiGiulio had a little tougher first set win over Bakshi, but also managed to win in straight sets, 7-5, 6-1, to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead for the match.
Rinderknech, then, made up for his long shot in doubles action by beating Redlicki, 6-4, 6-2, to earn A&M’s first point of the day. But, when Cressy defeated Valentine Vacherot, 6-4, 6-4, the Bruins picked up their fourth and deciding point to win the match, 4-1.
It’s a good thing Cressy finished off the match, too. As A&M’s Habib and Catanzariti both won their first set over Rapp and Logan Staggs, respectively. While the Bruins each bounced back to win the second sets, the third sets of each match were close when play was halted. So, the unfinished matches could have gone either way had they been required to finish.
Today’s match will likely be even tougher. To start with, the Bulldogs are playing at home as the tournament host. The fact that Georgia was able to upset 4th seeded Southern Cal shows how good the Bulldogs are. So, not only will UCLA have to overcome a good tennis team, but they will have to beat them in front of a home crowd which could make it tougher, but a Final Four berth is on the line in this afternoon’s match.
Hopefully, UCLA can come out ahead and move a step closer to breaking the tie with Stanford for the most NCAA titles.