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Men's Tennis Set to Host Pac-12 Openers Friday, Sunday

Mar 17, 2022
Patrick Zahraj (Photo: Lillie Yazdi)

The UCLA men's tennis team will open Pac-12 play Friday, when it welcomes Arizona to Los Angeles Tennis Center. First serve between the No. 53 Bruins (4-7) and No. 24 Wildcats (13-5) is set for 3 p.m. PT. UCLA then faces No. 55 Arizona State (5-9) Sunday. That match will begin at 12 p.m.

FOLLOW LIVE
Fans unable to attend home UCLA men's tennis matches in person can still follow live. Live streaming and live scoring will be available for all matches played at Los Angeles Tennis Center HERE.

LAST TIME OUT
No. 46 UCLA fell short against No. 3 TCU March 10, suffering a 4-2 loss at Los Angeles Tennis Center. The Bruins' knotted their non-conference finale at 2-2, but ultimately saw Pedro Vives clinch the result. Karl Lee was attempting to force a third set when the deciding match went final by way of tiebreaker. Patrick Zahraj of UCLA was up a set on the unfinished court. Alexander Hoogmartens and Giacomo Revelli posted singles wins for the Bruins.

UCLA VS. ARIZONA, ARIZONA STATE
UCLA holds an all-time record of 74-2 versus Arizona. The programs last met March 28, 2021, when the Bruins got off on the right foot before being overcome in singles play at LaNelle Robson Tennis Center. They collected the doubles point without dropping a match, but the Wildcats charged back to prevail in the first four finished singles contests for a 4-1 result. Two of the decisions were made in three sets. The unfinished singles matches were also in third sets. UCLA is 67-4 against Arizona State after splitting two 2021 matchups. At Whiteman Tennis Center March 26, the Bruins overcame a two-hour rain delay, dropping the doubles point and four lost singles first sets to defeat the Sun Devils, 4-3. Mathew Tsolakyan completed the turnaround with a three-set win. Then, in an April 24 Pac-12 Championships quarterfinal contest, UCLA suffered a 4-3 loss after charging back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits. Nathan Ponwith clinched the overall victory for ASU.

IN THE RANKINGS
UCLA found itself at No. 53 in the latest ITA team rankings, released Wednesday. Individually, Alexander Hoogmartens is No. 77 in the most recent ITA singles rankings, which came out Wednesday, March 9. The freshman from Beersel, Belgium has a 10-4 record this season, including a 3-1 mark against nationally-ranked opponents. Also sporting a 10-4 singles record is senior Patrick Zahraj, who found himself on the singles list for the first time in his career, at No. 105. The Bruins are also represented in the doubles rankings, as the combination of Zahraj and Bryce Pereira is No. 53. The pair knocked off No. 10 Stefan Dostanic and Bradley Frye of USC, 6-1, on March 1. As a team, UCLA completed the 2020-21 season at No. 25 in the ITA team rankings.

UCLA IN 4-3 MATCHES
UCLA holds a 13-10 record in matches decided by 4-3 scores since the start of the 2016 season. Head coach Billy Martin's 2022 team is 1-1 in such results. Drew Baird rallied from a 2-5 deficit to notch the decider against Texas Tech in the Jan. 30 ITA Kickoff Weekend consolation contest. On March 7, at the University of San Diego, Baird was outlasted by No. 8 August Holmgren, giving the Toreros a narrow win. In 2021, the Bruins played five matches that ended in 4-3 scores, going 2-3. The previous three do-or-die situations went to UCLA.

BRUINS ON TOUR
Three former UCLA men's tennis players are currently listed in the top 75 of the ATP singles rankings. Marcos Giron recently reached his career high of No. 55 after watching his number gradually improve throughout 2021. His standout performance came when he advanced through qualifying and into the third round at the ATP Masters 1000 Paris event. Giron beat top-50 opponents Frances Tiafoe of the United States and Diego Schwartzman of Argentina in the main draw. Giron also knocked off fellow American and 19th-ranked Taylor Fritz on his way to the Dallas Open semifinals in February. Mackie McDonald, meanwhile, is slotted at No. 59 after climbing to a career-best No. 49 in February. He skyrocketed back into the top 100 in August 2021, on the heels of his ATP Tour final-round appearance at the Citi Open. McDonald beat Top-100 players Nick Kyrgios of Australia, Ilya Ivashka of Belarus, Benoit Paire of France and Kei Nishikori of Japan in Washington. Maxime Cressy is at No. 72 after reaching a career-high No. 59 in January. Cressy has had a standout 2022, reaching his first ATP Tour final as a qualifier at January's Melbourne Summer Set ahead of the Australian Open. He defeated top-30 counterparts Reilly Opelka of the United States and Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, but was ultimately felled by Rafael Nadal. Cressy then went on to reach his first Grand Slam fourth round at Melbourne Park, a run that started with a five-set victory against John Isner of the US. Giron (2014 singles), McDonald (2016 singles and doubles) and Cressy (2019 doubles) each won an NCAA individual championship under head coach Billy Martin while at UCLA.

PACIFIC COAST DOUBLES CHAMPIONSHIP
Drew Baird and Alexander Hoogmartens defeated teammates Stefan Leustian and Bryce Pereira in the final round of the 132nd Annual Pacific Coast Doubles Championship at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. Started in 1890 at the Hotel Del Monte in Monterey, Calif., the Pacific Coast Doubles Championship has seen the likes of Jack Kramer, Ted Schroeder, Bobby Riggs, Pancho Segura, Don Budge, Tony Trabert, Stan Smith, Bob Lutz, Arthur Ashe, Dennis Ralston and John McEnroe lift its trophy. Joining the finalist quartet in the field were teammates and coaches Blaine Hovenier (seeded fourth with partner Clay Thompson), Rikus de Villiers (seeded 16th with Michael de Villiers), Ben Goldberg (seeded 16th with Grant Chen), Jeffrey Fradkin/Max Wild and Karl Lee/Giacomo Revelli.

FALL RECAP
UCLA took part in five tournaments during the fall. Stefan Leustian racked up a team-best eight singles wins, recording quarterfinal-round finishes at the SoCal Intercollegiate Championships and the ITA Southwest Regional Championships. Alexander Hoogmartens knocked off a nationally-ranked counterpart, No. 70 Lleyton Cronje of UCF, in his debut, and went on to beat another, No. 117 Daniel De Jonge of Pepperdine, at the ITA Southwest Regionals. He finished the year with a 4-2 singles record. Giacomo Revelli and Patrick Zahraj teamed to make the ITA Southwest Regionals doubles final round. Their three wins tops on the team during the fall.

2020-21 IN REVIEW
The 2020-21 Bruins went 13-7, earning a spot in the program's 44th NCAA tournament in as many opportunities. Shorthanded for a majority of the season, a near-full-strength group won eight of nine matches played from March 2-April 6. During that stretch, UCLA turned in 4-3 victories versus Stanford (March 22) and at Arizona State (March 26), with Govind Nanda and Mathew Tsolakyan the last men standing in those contests, respectively. Keegan Smith logged the most singles wins on the team, going 13-2 before his season was cut short. Bryce Pereira accumulated a team-best 10 doubles triumphs, playing with three different partners. Smith was named to the All-Pac-12 first team, while Nanda was voted to the second team. Drew Baird earned honorable mention acclaim. Smith was ranked No. 55 by the ITA among singles players, while Baird and Nanda formed the No. 46 doubles tandem, to finish the season.

WHO'S BACK?
The Bruins' core of returners is headlined by junior Drew Baird, who posted eight singles results each on Courts 2 and 3. Six seniors with dual-match experience – Roscoe Bellamy, Eric Hahn, Bryce Pereira, Mathew Tsolakyan, Max Wild and Patrick Zahraj -- are also back. Pereira, who a team-high 10 doubles wins in 2020-21, returns for a fifth year. Also back are redshirt junior Blaine Hovenier and sophomores Stefan Leustian and Timothy Li.

WHO'S GONE?
Seniors Lucas Bellamy (no records in 2020-21), Ben Goldberg (9-8 singles, 3-0 doubles), Connor Hance (0-1 singles, 1-0 doubles), Connor Rapp (3-2 doubles) and Keegan Smith (13-2 singles, 8-6 doubles), as well as graduate student Sam Feit (11-6 singles, 4-2 doubles), moved on after the end of the 2020-21 season. Govind Nanda (8-4 singles, 5-5 doubles) also left following his junior campaign to pursue a full-time career in professional tennis. Though he exhausted his eligibility after using the extra year afforded by the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Goldberg remains with the program in the position of volunteer assistant coach.

WHO'S NEW?
The UCLA roster features freshmen Jeffrey Fradkin, Alexander Hoogmartens, Karl Lee and Giacomo Revelli. Fradkin (New York, N.Y.), a 5-Star recruit according to TennisRecruiting.net, was the Boys' 14 Combined No. 1 player for the USTA Eastern Section in 2016 and captured the ITF J4 Guatemala singles title in 2019. Hoogmartens (Beersel, Belgium) teamed with Jeffrey von Der Schulenburg to win the ITF J1 Bradenton (Eddie Herr ITF) doubles title in 2019 and participated in the Roland-Garros and Australian Open junior tournaments in 2020. Lee (Sacramento, Calif.), a Blue Chip prospect who was named the top player in his class by TennisRecruiting.net in 2017, collected the 2020 UTR Newport Beach (Calif.) Open singles title. Revelli (London, England) advanced to the ITF M25 singles second round in 2021 and qualified for singles main draws at the M25 Calabasas, CA, M15 Warmbad-Villach and M25 Grodzisk Mazowiecki events the same year.

HEAD COACH BILLY MARTIN
Head coach Billy 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 29th year as head coach and 39th campaign on staff, Martin holds a record of 621-142 (.814) 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.