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Men's Tennis Defeats No. 17 Arizona State, 4-3

Mar 26, 2021
Drew Baird (Photo: Arizona State Athletics)

TEMPE, Ariz. – The UCLA men's tennis team overcame a two-hour rain delay, a lost doubles point and four dropped singles first sets to defeat No. 17 Arizona State, 4-3, Friday at Whiteman Tennis Center.

Mathew Tsolakyan completed the turnaround with a three-set win. Drew Baird, Keegan Smith and Govind Nanda were also victorious for the Bruins (8-2, 2-0 Pac-12), who faced a 2-0 deficit before mounting their comeback. The Sun Devils (13-4, 2-1) received wins from Andrea Bolla and George Stoupe, but could not pick up a third after collecting the doubles point.

Each of the doubles matches was closely contested, with Bolla and Christian Lerby breaking through first with a 6-4 result against Tsolakyan and Roscoe Bellamy on Court 3. Smith and Bryce Pereira pulled UCLA even with a 6-4 showing of their own versus No. 42 Stoupe and Nathan Ponwith on the top court. ASU ultimately seized the initial point on the second court, where Makey Rakotomalala and Tim Ruehl outlasted Baird and Nanda by a 7-5 score.

The Sun Devils nabbed first sets on Courts 2, 4, 5 and 6 and looked primed to take the overall win. Bolla closed out Ben Goldberg first to bring ASU's lead to 2-0 before a shift in the Bruins' direction began.

Baird cut the deficit in half, turning in a 6-4, 7-6(4) defeat of Ruehl on Court 3. No. 48 Smith also faced a second-set tiebreaker against No. 51 Ponwith on Court 1 before being forced into a third set. There, he prevailed with by a 6-1, 6-7(2), 6-3 margin to tie the score. Smith is now 5-1 against nationally-ranked opponents this season.

Nanda was next off on Court 2, where he split sets with Rakotomalala before riding momentum to a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory and the lead. Stoupe brought the Sun Devils back even with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 decision, dispatching of Sam Feit on Court 5.

The match was decided on Court 6, where Tsolakyan bounced back from a convincing first-set performance by Lerby. The second set went narrowly to Tsolakyan, who went on to post a 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 win – his third clincher of the season. A lengthy rally decided it.

UCLA completes its desert road trip Sunday, when it meets Arizona. First serve from LaNelle Robson Tennis Center is set for 12 p.m., PT.

Tennis Match Results
UCLA vs Arizona State
3/26/2021 at Tempe, AZ
(Whiteman Tennis Center)

UCLA 4, #17 Arizona State 3

Singles competition
1. #48 Keegan Smith (UCLA) def. #51 Nathan Ponwith (ASU) 6-1, 6-7 (2-7), 6-3
2. Govind Nanda (UCLA) def. Makey Rakotomalala (ASU) 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
3. #57 Drew Baird (UCLA) def. Tim Ruehl (ASU) 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)
4. Andrea Bolla (ASU) def. Ben Goldberg (UCLA) 7-5, 6-2
5. George Stoupe (ASU) def. Sam Feit (UCLA) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
6. Mathew Tsolakyan (UCLA) def. Christian Lerby (ASU) 2-6, 7-5, 6-3

Doubles competition
1. Bryce Pereira/Keegan Smith (UCLA) def. #42 Nathan Ponwith/George Stoupe (ASU) 6-4
2. Makey Rakotomalala/Tim Ruehl (ASU) def. Drew Baird/Govind Nanda (UCLA) 7-5
3. Andrea Bolla/Christian Lerby (ASU) def. Roscoe Bellamy/Mathew Tsolakyan (UCLA) 6-4

Match Notes:
UCLA 8-2
Arizona State 13-4; National ranking #17
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (4,3,1,2,5,6)