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Men's Tennis Edged Out for Spot in Pac-12 Semifinals

Apr 24, 2021
Roscoe Bellamy (Photo: Derrick Tuskan)

SAN DIEGO – The fourth-seeded UCLA men's tennis team went the distance against No. 5 seed Arizona State, but was edged out of a spot in the Pac-12 Championships semifinal round Saturday afternoon at Barnes Tennis Center.

The Bruins (12-6) suffered a 4-3 loss after charging back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits. Drew Baird, Roscoe Bellamy and Sam Feit accounted for UCLA's points in the losing effort. Nathan Ponwith clinched the overall win for the Sun Devils (15-7), who will meet top-seeded Stanford Sunday.

The 68th-ranked doubles combination of Drew Baird and Govind Nanda did not go quietly despite dropping the first four games on the top court, but Sun Devils Makey Rakotomalala and Tim Ruehl ultimately prevailed by a 6-3 score. Bryce Pereira and Patrick Zahraj answered promptly with the equalizer, though, dispatching of Max McKennon and Nathan Ponwith with a 6-3 victory of their own on the middle court. That left the opening point to be decided on Court 3, which stayed on serve until 5-5. Christian Lerby and George Stoupe of ASU took the final two games and the clinching win over Roscoe Bellamy and Mathew Tsolakyan.

The Bruins collected three singles first sets and would force third frames on two more courts. The only straight-set ASU win came on Court 3, where Ruehl bested Ben Goldberg by a 6-3, 6-2 score to make it 2-0.

UCLA got back into the match with near-simultaneous 6-4, 6-4 victories on neighboring courts. First to finish was the Court 5 matchup between Bellamy and McKennon. Bellamy won for the sixth time in seven appearances, cutting the Bruins' deficit in half. Sam Feit followed suit, putting a bow on his straight-set win over Stoupe with a well-placed forehand attempt that capped a 27-shot rally.

Three third sets remained. Lerby briefly put the Sun Devils back into the lead with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 decision against Zahraj on Court 6, leaving just the top two courts to play.

No. 115 Baird captured a tiebreaker in his first set on Court 2, only to have Rakotomalala answer in the second. The third was all Baird, though, as the sophomore tied it up with a 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-2 showing.

The back-and-forth top-court matchup between top-100 players saw No. 74 Nanda serving with a 4-3 lead in the third set. No. 95 Ponwith posted a break of serve, however, and never looked back for the 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 deciding win.

Tennis Match Results
Arizona State vs UCLA
4/24/2021 at San Diego, CA
(Barnes Tennis Center)

#27 Arizona State 4, #28 UCLA 3

Singles competition
1. #95 Nathan Ponwith (ASU) def. #74 Govind Nanda (UCLA) 7-5, 2-6, 6-4
2. #115 Drew Baird (UCLA) def. Makey Rakotomalala (ASU) 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 6-2
3. Tim Ruehl (ASU) def. Ben Goldberg (UCLA) 6-3, 6-2
4. Sam Feit (UCLA) def. George Stoupe (ASU) 6-4, 6-4
5. Roscoe Bellamy (UCLA) def. Max McKennon (ASU) 6-4, 6-4
6. Christian Lerby (ASU) def. Patrick Zahraj (UCLA) 6-3, 3-6, 6-2

Doubles competition
1. Makey Rakotomalala/Tim Ruehl (ASU) def. #68 Drew Baird/Govind Nanda (UCLA) 6-3
2. Bryce Pereira/Patrick Zahraj (UCLA) def. Max McKennon/Nathan Ponwith (ASU) 6-3
3. Christian Lerby/George Stoupe (ASU) def. Roscoe Bellamy/Mathew Tsolakyan (UCLA) 7-5

Match Notes:
Arizona State 15-7; National ranking #27
UCLA 12-6; National ranking #28
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (3,5,4,6,2,1)