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Men's Tennis Set to Wrap Pac-12 Slate at USC

Apr 15, 2021
Ben Goldberg (Photo: Ross Turteltaub)

MATCH INFORMATION
Date/Time:
Friday, April 16/3:00 PM PT
Live Stream/Live Stats: USCTrojans.com
Series vs. USC: UCLA leads, 84-52
Last Meeting vs. USC: UCLA won 4-3 on Feb. 28

UP NEXT
The No. 33/27 UCLA men's tennis team will conclude its Pac-12 slate Friday, when it visits David X. Marks Tennis Stadium and No. 15/13 USC. First serve is scheduled for 3 p.m., PT. The Bruins (11-4, 4-2 in Pac-12 play) and Trojans (16-6, 4-2) are each looking to bounce back from a 4-3 road loss to conference-leading Stanford.

FOLLOW LIVE
Live streaming and live scoring for Friday's match will be available HERE.

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 at UCLABruins.com.

LAST TIME OUT
UCLA jumped out to a 3-0 lead before being overcome down the stretch by Stanford on April 9, falling by a 4-3 score in Pac-12 action at Taube Family Tennis Center. The Bruins captured the doubles point without a loss and received convincing wins from Govind Nanda and Keegan Smith to start the match. The Cardinal charged back, however, with the decision ultimately made by Timothy Sah on Court 5.

UCLA VS. USC
UCLA men's tennis holds a combined all-time record of 84-52 against USC. The Trojans have prevailed in each of the previous two 2021 meetings, including a 4-3 decision at Los Angeles Tennis Center on Feb. 28. The non-conference loss snapped a 68-match home winning streak the UCLA program had possessed since May 8, 2015. The Bruins dropped the doubles point and the first completed singles match before the front-court trio of Drew Baird, Ben Goldberg and Keegan Smith ran off consecutive singles wins against top-26 opponents to establish a 3-2 lead. Jake Sands and Lodewijk Weststrate turned in comeback, three-set wins for USC, however, making the difference in the nearly four-hour-long match.

SMITH EARNS NATIONAL POTW HONOR
Keegan Smith was named UTR ITA Division I Player of the Week for April 8-15, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced Wednesday. The award, a first for UCLA men's tennis, honors players based on increase in Universal Tennis Rating throughout the previous week. Smith went 4-0 across his singles and doubles matches as the Bruins registered a split with in-state rivals San Diego and Stanford. He started his week with a pair of ranked victories, including a 6-3, 7-5 singles triumph over No. 30 (Oracle ITA) August Holmgren of USD on the top court. Smith and partner Bryce Pereira also clinched the doubles point with a 7-5 result versus No. 61 Holmgren and David Norfeldt. Smith went on to deliver a 6-0, 6-2 performance against Axel Geller of the Cardinal, capping a perfect individual day. Smith and Pereira earlier beat Geller and Neel Rajesh, 7-5. All four decisions came on the top court. Smith's UTR rose from 13.75 to 13.88 with the wins.

IN THE RANKINGS
The UCLA men's tennis team checks in at No. 19 in the latest Tennis Channel/USTA Top 25, it was announced Wednesday. The most recent Oracle ITA team rankings, also released Wednesday, list the Bruins at No. 33 on its computerized list and No. 27 in the coaches poll. Oracle ITA also unveiled its newest player rankings the same day, with Bruins Keegan Smith (No. 37), Govind Nanda (62) and Drew Baird (108) on the singles list.

SMITH, NANDA COLLECT PAC-12 AWARDS
Fresh off his initial match play of the 2020-21 campaign, Govind Nanda was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for March 22-28, the conference announced March 31. The award is the second received by a Bruin this season, as Keegan Smith was recognized March 2. Nanda played the role of hero in UCLA's 4-3 home victory over Stanford March 22. Tasked with taking down the nation's then-No. 3 player, Alexandre Rotsaert, he did just that by a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 score. The Court-2 showdown was the final match of the day and represented Nanda's first singles appearance of the season. He also earned singles victories against Bjorn Hoffmann of UC Irvine March 23 and Makey Rakotomalala of Arizona State March 26. Smith was honored after earning wins over a pair of top-30 singles opponents – including top-ranked Daniel Cukierman of USC Feb. 28 – and had a hand in clinching the doubles point versus UC Santa Barbara Feb. 24. He also beat No. 27 Joseph Guillin of the Gauchos.

LAK'D IN
Mathew Tsolakyan leads UCLA with three clinching wins this season, capturing the deciding points against Loyola Marymount (Feb. 15), UC Irvine (Feb. 20) and Arizona State (March 26). Since Feb. 15, 2020, Tsolakyan is 15-2 in singles matches. He has had just one match left unfinished during that time. This season has also seen Tsolakyan collect the first doubles win of his dual-match career. In an ITA Kickoff Weekend match Jan. 25, Tsolakyan and partner Ben Goldberg outlasted Stefan Dostanic and Ryder Jackson of USC, 7-5, to give UCLA the doubles point against the host and then-No. 1 Trojans.

TOP-TIER TRIUMPHS
Drew Baird, Ben Goldberg and Keegan Smith defeated a trio of Oracle ITA then-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, Smith took down No. 1 Daniel Cukierman, 6-2, 7-5, evening their personal series at two wins apiece. Smith is now 28-15 versus nationally-ranked opponents for his career. Baird is 2-3 in those situations, while Goldberg holds a 5-7 mark.

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 93-20 in singles play and 68-27 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.

MR. 600
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 615-132 (.823) 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.

GLENN BASSETT
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.