Men's Tennis to Open Dual-Match Season Across Town
The No. 18 UCLA men's tennis team is set to begin the dual-match portion of its 2021 schedule this weekend, as it will head across town for a pair of ITA Kickoff Weekend matches. The Bruins will make their debut Saturday at 10 a.m., PT against Pac-12 foe California. Their match will be followed by a contest between UNLV and host and top-ranked USC at 3 p.m. The winner of each match will advance to Sunday's championship showdown at 3 p.m. A 10 a.m. consolation match will also be held Sunday. The winner of Sunday's championship match will advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, set to run from Feb. 12-14 in Urbana, Ill. Live streaming and live scoring from USC's David X. Marks Tennis Stadium will be available HERE.
Match 1 (10 a.m.): California vs. UCLA
Match 2 (3 p.m.): UNLV at USC
Match 3 (10 a.m.): Consolation Match
Match 4 (3 p.m.): Championship Match
Fans are not permitted to attend events at UCLA Athletics venues, including Los Angeles Tennis Center, in adherence to the latest COVID-19 guidelines set by the state of California and Los Angeles County. Live streaming and live scoring for all home UCLA men's tennis matches will be available HERE.
UCLA VS. CAL/UNLV/USC
UCLA men's tennis holds an all-time record of 97-15 in matches played against Cal. The Golden Bears have come out on top of the last two decisions, though, including a 4-2 win at Hellman Tennis Complex in the teams' only meeting of 2020 (Jan. 31). UCLA is unbeaten against potential Sunday opponent UNLV (17-0), most recently logging a 5-2 victory on Feb. 10, 2018. The Bruins will look to improve upon a 84-50 record against rival USC if the teams square off for the first time since UCLA squeaked out a 4-3 win at LATC on April 5, 2019.
IN THE RANKINGS
The UCLA men's tennis team begins the 2021 dual-match season slotted at No. 18 in the Oracle ITA team rankings, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced Thursday, Jan. 14. The preseason player rankings, meanwhile, feature Bruins Keegan Smith (No. 10), Govind Nanda (22) and Sam Feit (109). The doubles team of Nanda and Smith checked in at No. 13, the best-ever ranking for the combination. Smith reached a career-best No. 4 in the singles rankings (March 3), while Nanda rose to a personal-best showing of No. 10 (Feb. 5), in 2020. Feit, who joined the program as a transfer from during the summer of 2020, also received a career-high listing.
BY THE NUMBERS
UCLA has three notable streaks alive:
66 – Head coach Billy Martin has led his teams to 66 straight home wins, a streak that started May 8, 2015.
31 – UCLA teams have won 31 Pac-12 regular-season matches in a row since the start of the 2016 season.
4 – UCLA has won four straight Pac-12 regular-season championships.
2019-20 IN REVIEW
Before the 2019-20 season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, UCLA won its final five matches to bring its record to 9-4. It was a year of milestones for the Bruins, who extended their home and Pac-12 winning streaks and saw Martin record the 600th win of his head-coaching career. Then-senior Ben Goldberg, who was granted a fifth season by the NCAA after the shortened season and returns to UCLA in 2020-21, posted the deciding point in each of the Bruins' 4-3 wins. Goldberg prevailed on a deuce-point, 25-shot rally to seal a three-set victory over UCF's Bogdan Pavel and trip to ITA Indoors (Jan. 26, 2020) and overcame a 1-5 second-set deficit and eight match points to beat Oregon's Riki Oshima in a match that lasted nearly four hours (March 1, 2020).
SMITH BACK FOR MORE
Smith enters his senior season possessing career records of 80-18 in singles play and 60-21 in doubles action. He captured the NCAA doubles championship with Maxime Cressy in 2019, the last time the tournament was played. The pair was undefeated in 21 matches and 26 sets. Smith is a three-time All-American and looks to join Brian Teacher (1973-76), Ferdi Taygan (1974-77) and Marcel Freeman (1979-82) in UCLA's exclusive club of four-timers.
UCLA men's tennis adds to the fold three newcomers in Feit, Stefan Leustian and Timothy Li. Feit joins the Bruins as a graduate transfer from Gonzaga University, where he spent a majority of his four seasons atop the Zags' singles and doubles lineups. He posted a singles record of 75-36 during his time in the Pacific Northwest and earned All-WCC Singles honors in 2018 and 2019, including a spot on the First Team as a junior, when he went 24-8. Feit also holds a 61-45 doubles mark and netted All-WCC First- (2019) and Second-Team (2018) Doubles accolades. Leustian, a Blue-Chip prospect as the No. 6 player in his class according to TennisRecruiting.net, won the prestigious Les Petits As tournament in Tarbes, France in 2016 as a 14-year old. A frequent participant in ITF events, he made deep runs in Boys' 18 draws at Austin, Corpus Christi, South Carolina and Delray Beach. Leustian also took part in the 2019 Boys' 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich., where he reached the second rounds of the singles and doubles brackets. Li recently completed a decorated prep career at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, where the Wolverines collected the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 team title in 2017 and 2018 and went on to take the top spot at the CIF/USTA Southern California Regional Championships in the latter of those seasons. A 4-star prospect according to TennisRecruiting.net, Li and partner Sacha Pritzker won the CIF doubles championship at the 2018 Ojai Valley Junior Tournament. The pair also claimed the Mission League doubles title that year, giving Li his second in as many tries.
With the Bruins' 4-0 ITA Indoors defeat of NC State on Feb. 16, 2020, Martin reached the 600-win plateau for his career.
MORE ON MARTIN - Martin, who became the program's all-time leader in head-coaching wins in 2019, is the longest-tenured active coach at UCLA. In his 28th year as head coach and 38th campaign on staff, Martin holds a record of 604-128 (.825) at the helm. He guided the 2005 Bruins to the program's 16th NCAA team title and just three Martin-led squads have finished outside the top five at the season-ending NCAA Championships. Benjamin Kohlloeffel (2006), Marcos Giron (2014) and Mackenzie McDonald (2016) have earned NCAA singles titles on Martin's watch, while UCLA has become a frequent landing spot for doubles champions of late. In addition to 1996 winners Justin Gimelstob and Srdjan Muskatirovic, three of the last four titleholders (McDonald/Martin Redlicki in 2016, Redlicki/Evan Zhu in 2018 and Cressy/Smith in 2019 have called Westwood home.
Legendary UCLA men's tennis head coach Glenn Bassett, who guided the Bruins to seven NCAA team championships as head coach, passed away August 18, 2020 at the age of 93. Bassett held a career record of 592-92-2 over 27 seasons (1967-93) as UCLA head coach. At the time of his retirement, he was the winningest men's tennis head coach, by percentage (.864), in NCAA Division I history. Bassett was also the first individual to collect NCAA tennis team championships as a player, an assistant coach and a head coach – all at UCLA. A co-captain under head coach Bill Ackerman, Bassett helped UCLA to its first-ever NCAA championship as a player in 1950. He went on to serve as assistant coach under JD Morgan and was part of five more team titles in that role. Bassett began his head coaching career at Santa Monica High School, where he guided his alma mater to five CIF Southern Section large-school crowns in a row (1962-66) before succeeding Morgan.