No. 17 Men's Tennis Set to Host Pepperdine, Utah
The No. 17 UCLA men's tennis team continues its homestand this week with matches against Los Angeles-area rival No. 27 Pepperdine and Pac-12 foe Utah. The Bruins (4-2) welcome a Pepperdine team Wednesday that has won four of its last five matches, including a a 4-3 victory at USC March 5, to improve its record to 4-4. UCLA is set to open conference play Friday with a visit from the Utes (10-4), who have had their first two matches of the week postponed due to COVID-19 protocols. Each match is scheduled to start at 2 p.m., PT.
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. PEPPERDINE/UTAH
UCLA men's tennis holds an all-time record of 51-15 versus Pepperdine. The programs last faced off April 9, 2019, when the Bruins picked up a 4-1 win at Los Angeles Tennis Center. Govind Nanda and Maxime Cressy surrendered three total games each in their singles matches and Eric Hahn closed it out with his first-career clinching victory. Matias Sborowitz logged the lone win of the day for the Waves, who were swept in doubles play. The Bruins will try to improve upon an all-time mark of 16-0 in its series with Utah. The programs last met April 25, 2019 in the Pac-12, when Billy Martin became UCLA's all-time winningest head coach with a sweep of the Utes in the Pac-12 Championships quarterfinal round. Following a dominant doubles effort, the Bruins received convincing singles victories from Keegan Smith (6-1, 6-1), Nanda (6-0, 6-1) and clincher Ben Goldberg (6-4, 6-0).
LAST TIME OUT
No. 17 UCLA dropped just two sets en route to a 6-1 defeat of UNLV March 2 at Los Angeles Tennis Center. The Bruins were led by their backcourt players, as each won without surrendering more than two games in a set. Roscoe Bellamy clinched the overall win, following the efforts of newcomers Stefan Leustian and Sam Feit. Keegan Smith and Ben Goldberg followed with straight-set victories of their own. All three UCLA pairs also won in doubles play.
Drew Baird, Ben Goldberg and Keegan Smith defeated a trio of Oracle ITA top-26 players in the Bruins' narrow home loss to USC on Feb. 28. Each win represents a career best in terms of ranking. Baird dispatched of No. 19 Riley Smith, 6-3, 6-4, for his third straight-set victory in a row. Goldberg knocked off No. 26 Mor Bulis, 7-6(5), 6-2, for his second-career win on Court 3. And in a top-court showdown, No. 10 Smith took down No. 1 Daniel Cukierman, 6-2, 7-5, evening their personal series at two wins apiece. Smith is now 24-14 versus nationally-ranked opponents for his career. Baird is 2-2 in those situations, while Goldberg holds a 5-6 mark.
IN THE RANKINGS
The UCLA men's tennis team checks in at No. 17 in the latest Oracle ITA team rankings, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced Wednesday, Feb. 24. The player rankings, announced Jan. 13, 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
Head coach Billy Martin led his teams to 68 straight home wins from May 8, 2015 to Feb. 28, 2021, when the streak was ended by crosstown rival USC. The Bruins will try to extend a pair of conference-related runs when they start Pac-12 play Friday versus Utah:
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.
SELL RETURNS TO WESTWOOD
The UCLA men's tennis program has hired former standout Karue Sell to the position of volunteer assistant coach, head coach Billy Martin announced Monday. A native of Jaragua do Sul, Brazil, Sell embarked on a professional career after posting records of 104-31 in singles matches and 90-41 in doubles play for the Bruins from 2013-16. He was an active tournament participant into 2019 before working with Naomi Osaka, the current WTA No. 2 singles player. Sell was by Osaka's side when she won her third Grand Slam singles championship at the 2020 US Open and continued to assist her as she took the top spot at the 2021 Australian Open. Sell also served as volunteer assistant coach for Pepperdine under head coach Marcelo Ferreira during the 2016-17 season.
SMITH BACK FOR MORE
Senior Keegan Smith possesses career records of 85-19 in singles play and 62-24 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 added to the fold three newcomers in Sam Feit, Stefan Leustian and Timothy Li. Feit, a graduate transfer from Gonzaga University, spent a majority of his four seasons atop the Zags' singles and doubles lineups. He 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 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. At Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, Li and the Wolverines collected the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 team title in 2017 and 2018 and took the top spot at the CIF/USTA Southern California Regional Championships in 2018. A 4-star prospect, 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 a row.
With the Bruins' 4-0 ITA Indoors defeat of NC State on Feb. 16, 2020, head coach Billy 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 607-130 (.824) 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 Maxime Cressy/Keegan 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.