UCLA Men's Tennis Team Begins NCAA Play This Friday

May 6, 2009

Seventh-Seeded Bruins to Host NCAA Regional Play This Weekend
The seventh-seeded UCLA men's tennis team (17-4) has been selected to host NCAA Regional play at the Los Angeles Tennis Center this weekend. Action gets underway on Friday at 10:00 a.m., as Oklahoma State (14-7) faces Hawai'i (10-9) in a first-round encounter. The other first-round match that day will be UCLA versus Southern Illinois (18-6) at 1:00 p.m. Friday's winners will meet in the second round on Saturday at 3:00 p.m., with the winner of that match earning a spot in the round of 16 next week in College Station, Texas.

UCLA Makes 33rd NCAA Tournament
UCLA's selection to the 64-team NCAA field makes it 33 straight NCAA Tournament appearances for the program. In fact, UCLA is the only school to compete in every NCAA Tournament since the team format was adopted in 1977. The Bruins rank second in all-time NCAA Championships with 16.

UCLA Against the Regional Field
Friday will mark the first-ever meeting between UCLA and Southern Illinois. The Bruins own a 5-0 record against Oklahoma State, facing the Cowboys last year at the ITA National Team Indoors (UCLA won 4-3). UCLA and Hawai'i met for the first time earlier this season at the Los Angeles Tennis Center, a 6-1 Bruin win.

Another Pac-10 Title in the Books
UCLA captured the program's 33rd conference championship on April 17, posting a 5-2 victory over No. 7 USC at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. The Bruins and Trojans both entered the final match of the regular season with perfect 5-0 records in Pac-10 play. UCLA won the doubles point and then received singles wins from Haythem Abid, Holden Seguso, Nick Meister and Amit Inbar. It marked the Bruins' second victory over the Trojans this season, as UCLA also took a 4-3 non-conference road win back on March 5.

Abid Named First-Team All-Pac-10
UCLA's Haythem Abid earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors on Monday, headlining a group of six Bruins who were recognized by the conference. Michael Look and Matt Brooklyn were named to the All-Pac-10 second team, while Holden Seguso, Nick Meister and Harel Srugo earned honorable mention acclaim. It marks the third career All-Pac-10 honor for Abid, who was first-team in 2007 and second team in 2006.

UCLA in the Campbell's/ITA Rankings
UCLA checked in at No. 7 in the final Campbell's/ITA Rankings of the regular season released last Tuesday. New rankings will not be released again until the end of the NCAA Championships. Individually, Haythem Abid is UCLA's highest ranked player at No. 49. He is followed by No. 64 Matt Brooklyn, No. 100 Michael Look and No. 107 Nick Meister. In doubles, Abid and Meister are the Bruins' highest ranked team at No. 29. Meister is also ranked with Michael Look at No. 52. Amit Inbar and Harel Srugo check in at No. 80. (Complete team and individual rankings can be found on page 2).

Abid Earns NCAA Singles Berth
Junior Haythem Abid received an at-large selection to the 2009 NCAA Singles Championships and will be competing in the event, May 20-25, in College Station, Texas. Abid last played the tournament in 2007, falling to Georgia's Luis Flores, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 in the opening round. Matt Brooklyn was chosen as the sixth singles alternate to this year's tournament and will get into the tournament if six players withdraw due to injury or illness. The Bruins did not have any doubles teams selected to compete this year.

Repeat in College Station?
UCLA's most recent NCAA title was actually captured at Texas A&M's Mitchell Tennis Center in 2005. The Bruins defeated top-seeded and undefeated Baylor, 4-3 in a match that many still consider as the most exciting championship in tournament history. Coincidentally, the last time UCLA was a No. 7 seed in the tournament was in 2005.

Winning Streak Reaches 10
UCLA takes a 10-match winning streak into its first-round showdown against Southern Illinois on Friday. The Bruins have not lost a dual match since No. 5 Stanford pulled out a 4-3 win at the Los Angeles Tennis Center back on Feb. 28. That loss also snapped a 41-match home winning streak dating back to 2006.

Bruins on Verge of 20 Wins Again
At 17-4 overall, UCLA is on the verge of registering the program's 11th straight 20-win season, and 14th in head coach Billy Martin's 16 years as head coach. In order to accomplish this feat, the Bruins would need to win both regional matches and then win one match in College Station (essentially reach the NCAA Quarterfinals).

Brooklyn Leads Team in Ranked Wins
Junior Matt Brooklyn leads the team this year in wins over ranked opponents with eight. His highest ranked win on the season came over No. 16 Bradley Klahn of Stanford at the Sherwood Collegiate Cup in January. Four other players each have four ranked wins on the season. The highest ranked win for a UCLA player this season was posted by Haythem Abid, who knocked off top-ranked Robert Farah of USC, 6-4, 6-3 in a dual match on March 5.

Meister's 23 is Tops
With 23 singles victories thus far, sophomore Nick Meister is on the verge of leading the team in singles wins for the second year in a row. Meister, who takes a 23-7 overall record into the postseason, leads Matt Brooklyn (22-11) by just one win. Ranking third on the team in wins is Amit Inbar with 19. Meister led the team in singles wins as a freshman in 2008, as he was the only player to reach the 30-win mark (30-10).

Success at the Bottom
Although the Bruins feature one of the more balanced attacks in the country, it's hard to ignore just how good UCLA has been at the Nos. 4-6 singles positions this year. Consider this. The Bruins take a 51-8 overall record at those three spots into this week's NCAA Regionals compared this to just a 33-24 record at the Nos. 1-3 slots. Much of the Bruins success at the back can be attributed to Amit Inbar and Nick Meister, who are 16-3 and 15-2, respectively at the Nos. 4-6 spots.

Did You Know?
UCLA owns a perfect 11-0 record when winning at the No. 1 singles position. All four of the Bruins' losses this year have come following at loss at the top spot.

Not So Fast
Any team assuming it is going to beat UCLA just because it won the doubles point might want to think again, as the Bruins actually own a winning record (4-3) when losing the doubles point. The Bruins have battled back to post wins over Fresno State, San Diego State, Illinois and Stanford, all after falling behind 1-0. On the other side of the coin, the Bruins are 13-1 when taking the doubles point.

Streaking at the Right Time
Nick Meister takes a nine-match singles winning streak into the NCAA Tournament. He has also won 12 of his last 13, with his lone loss coming to USC's Matt Kecki on March 5. Amit Inbar is also playing well, winning 11 of his last 12 matches. In fact, he recently had his 11-match winning streak snapped when he fell to Stanford's Bradley Klahn, 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of the Pac-10 Championships. Klahn went on to win the tournament.

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