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Men's Tennis Ready to Begin NCAA Play in Austin

May 6, 2021
Ben Goldberg (Photo: Derrick Tuskan)

Saturday, May 8/7:00 AM PT
    Sunday, May 9/10:00 AM PT*
Live Stream/Live Stats:
Series vs. Northwestern: 1-0
Series vs. Northern Arizona: No prior meetings
Series vs. Texas: 8-2
Record in NCAA Play: 124-39
* - if necessary

The UCLA men's tennis team is set to open NCAA tournament play Saturday in Austin, Texas, where it will meet Northwestern in a matchup of at-large picks. The Bruins (13-6) and the Wildcats (13-7), representing the Big Ten, will begin their first-round match at 7 a.m., PT. No. 4 seed and Big 12 at-large pick Texas (20-5) will take on Big Sky champion Northern Arizona (8-8) at 10 a.m. Winners will meet Saturday at 10 a.m. for a trip to Orlando, Fla.

Live streaming and live scoring for each of the NCAA Championships first- and second-round matches will be available HERE.

The UCLA men's tennis program is the only one to qualify for the NCAA Championships each year since the tournament format was adopted, running its streak to 44 years with its latest selection. The Bruins have collected 16 NCAA team titles, including four since the changeover in 1977. They have also been one of the last 16 teams standing each year. UCLA holds a 124-39 record in NCAA play. UCLA and Northwestern have met just once previously, as the host Bruins posted a 4-0 defeat of the Wildcats to open NCAA play in 1997.

Keegan Smith was selected to the 2021 NCAA Championships singles draw, the NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Subcommittee announced Tuesday. Govind Nanda was named the fifth alternate. The individual tournaments will take place May 23-28 at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida, upon completion of the team championship, which is set for May 16-22. The qualification marks the third in as many opportunities for Smith. He previously reached the second round in 2019. Nanda was also an alternate in 2019 and was ultimately admitted to the field.

Fourth-seeded UCLA defeated No. 8 seed Washington, 4-1, in a Pac-12 Championships consolation match at Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego. The Bruins came out on top of a pair of three-set decisions down the stretch to complete the comeback win. Ben Goldberg and Mathew Tsolakyan posted three-set victories, with Tsolakyan providing the clinching point. Roscoe Bellamy and Sam Feit also triumphed in singles play. The Huskies collected the doubles point, but were unable to get on the board again. UCLA bounced back from a 4-3 loss to fifth-seeded Arizona State in the first round. The Bruins charged back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits, with Bellamy, Feit and Drew Baird accounting for UCLA's points in the losing effort. The Sun Devils went on to knock off No. 1 seed Stanford en route to the championship match.

The UCLA men's tennis team checks in at No. 22 in the latest Tennis Channel/USTA Top 25, it was announced Wednesday. The most recent Oracle ITA team rankings, also released Wednesday, have the Bruins at No. 23 on its computerized list. Oracle ITA also unveiled its newest player rankings the same day, with Keegan Smith at No. 62 on the singles list. He has appeared in each installment of the singles rankings this season. The combination of Drew Baird and Govind Nanda had its third consecutive showing in the doubles rankings, at No. 72.

Drew Baird, Ben Goldberg and Keegan Smith defeated a trio of Oracle ITA then-top-26 players in the Bruins' narrow Feb. 28 home loss to USC. 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 2-4 in those situations, while Goldberg holds a 5-7 mark.

Keegan Smith was named UTR ITA Division I Player of the Week, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced April 14. 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. His UTR rose from 13.75 to 13.88 with the wins. 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.

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 marked the second received by a Bruin this season, as Keegan Smith was previously 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 No. 3 player, Alexandre Rotsaert, he did just that by a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 score. The showdown on Court 2 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.

The UCLA men's tennis program has hired former standout Karue Sell to the position of volunteer assistant coach, head coach Billy Martin announced March 8. 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. Rikus de Villiers was promoted from assistant coach to associate head coach prior to this season.

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 617-134 (.822) 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.