Men's Tennis to Face No. 13 Rice, No. 10 USC This Week

March 4, 2008

No. 6 Men's Tennis Returns Home
The sixth-ranked UCLA men's tennis team (8-1) has a big week ahead, hosting a pair of top 15 teams at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. Action gets underway this Wednesday, as the Bruins host No. 13 Rice (8-2) at 1:30 p.m. It will mark on the second-ever meeting between the two schools, as UCLA took a 6-1 victory over Rice at the LATC back in 1999. An opponent that the Bruins are very familiar with is scheduled to visit the LATC on Thursday, as No. 10 USC (9-2) comes to Westwood for a 1:30 p.m. showdown. The Bruins lead that series 64-33, as the two teams split the two meetings last season. Live stats for both matches can be accessed by clicking HERE

USC Festivities
Fans are encouraged to come early for the USC match in order to take part in the Bruin Trivia contest. In addition, the fan who picks up the 'lucky program' will also win a prize. All Prizes will be given out during the intermission between doubles and singles. Free pizza will be given to the first 50 fans in attendance.

Lexus Gauntlet Points on the Line
USC currently owns a 50-20 lead in this year's competition for the Lexus Gauntlet Trophy. The winner of this Thursday's men's tennis match will earn 2.5 points toward the final total. The Trojans are on the verge of clinching this year's title, as the first school to reach 55.5 points is crowned the champion. The race for the Lexus Gauntlet Trophy is an all-sport competition between USC and UCLA.

Last Year vs. USC
UCLA and USC played one of the most memorable matches in series history last year, as both teams entered the final match of the regular season with identical 6-0 records in Pac-10 play. With the conference title on the line, UCLA lost the doubles point but rallied to win four of six matches in singles play to pull out an eventual 4-3 victory. With the score tied at 3-3, UCLA senior Benjamin Kohlloeffel clinched the match for the Bruins with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over USC's Jamil Al-Agba at the No. 1 position. It marked the Bruins' fourth straight Pac-10 title.

Baylor, Duke Loom Ahead
UCLA continues its homestand next week, hosting two more quality opponents in No. 11 Baylor on Monday and Duke on Wednesday. Both matches begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. UCLA will be looking to snap a two-match losing streak to Baylor, as the Bears have taken 4-3 wins in 2006 and 2007. UCLA, which leads the all-time series against Duke 12-2, recently posted a 6-1 victory over the Blue Devils back in 2006.

Drean Leads the Way
Jeremy Drean currently leads the team in singles victories, taking a 16-4 record into the week. The senior from Rennes, France, also owns an 8-1 record in dual-match play, seeing all of his time at the No. 5 position. He was perfect in dual-match play until falling in three sets against UCSB last week.

Bruins to Break Before Conference Play
Following its match with Duke on Mar. 12, the Bruins will take a two-week break from competition for finals and spring break. UCLA will not be back in action until it opens up Pac-10 play at Washington on Mar. 28.

Ismail Gets First Victory
After using the same six players for the first eight matches of the season, head coach Billy Martin gave freshman Ahmed Ismail his first taste of dual-match play last week. The newcomer from Cairo, Egypt defeated UCSB's Eric Lee, 6-4, 6-3 at No. 6 singles, helping the Bruins to an eventual 6-1 victory.

Newcomer Assumes No. 1 Role
Bruin senior Harel Srugo, a transfer from Old Dominion University, has stepped up to lead the Bruins in both singles and doubles in just his first season in Westwood. Srugo owns a 5-3 record at the No. 1 singles position, posting wins over such players as No. 22 Andre Begemann (Pepperdine), No. 47 Luke Shields (Boise State) and No. 96 Matt Bruch (Stanford). In addition, he nearly knocked off top-ranked Somdev Devvarman (Virginia) at the USTA/ITA National Team Indoors before falling in three sets. Srugo also plays at the No. 1 doubles position with freshman Nick Meister.

Bruins Ranked No. 6 Nationally
UCLA checks in at No. 6 in the first computer rankings of the season released on Tuesday. Virginia is No. 1, followed by Ohio State, Georgia, Texas and Mississippi. Individually, senior Mathieu Dehaine is the Bruins' highest ranked singles player at No. 28. He is followed by No. 45 Harel Srugo and No. 51 Holden Seguso. UCLA does not have any doubles teams ranked this week. New team rankings will be released on Mar. 11. Individual rankings are not due out again until Mar. 18. Complete rankings can be found by clicking HERE

ITA Top 25 (Mar. 4)
1. Virginia
2. Ohio State
3. Georgia
4. Texas
5. Mississippi
7. Illinois
8. Michigan
9. North Carolina
10. USC
11. Baylor
12. Tulsa
13. Rice
14. Tennessee
15. Notre Dame
16. Florida State
17. Florida
18. VCU
19. Texas A&M
20. Wake Forest
21. Alabama
22. Vanderbilt
23. Auburn
t24. Virginia Tech
t24. Miami

Bruins Looking for Fifth Straight Pac-10 Championship
UCLA has won the last four Pac-10 titles and is looking for its fifth in a row in 2008. After earning co-championship honors from 2004-06, the Bruins won the title outright last year by defeating USC, 4-3 in the final match of the regular season. UCLA kicks off Pac-10 play at Washington on Mar. 28. (Note: Only the second meeting in a season between two Pac-10 schools counts in the standings. The exceptions for UCLA are Washington and Oregon, as the Bruins only face those teams once a year).

Don't Forget UC Irvine
UCLA was originally scheduled to face UC Irvine in its 2008 season opener back on Jan. 23, however that match had to be postponed due to rain. The Bruins and Anteaters plan to make up that match on Apr. 16 at the LATC beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Head Coach Billy Martin
UCLA head coach Billy Martin owns a 330-64 overall coaching record in his 15th season at the helm of the Bruin tennis program. In his 14 seasons, Martin has never had a team finish out of the top 5 at the NCAA Championships, leading UCLA to the school's 16th NCAA men's tennis title in 2005.

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