May 14, 2013
Top-Seeded UCLA Headed to Illinois for NCAA Championships
The No. 1 ranked and top-seeded UCLA men's tennis team continues NCAA Tournament play in Urbana, Ill. this week, as the Bruins (26-1) take on No. 16 Vanderbilt (18-10) in the round of 16 this Thursday at 7:00 p.m. (CST). The University of Illinois' Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex at the Atkins Tennis Center is the site of this year's tournament. It marks the first time that Illinois has hosted the NCAA Team Championships for men's and women's tennis. If the Bruins can get by Vanderbilt, they would play the winner of No. 8 Duke and No. 9 Kentucky in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. (CST). UCLA is the tournament's top seed for the first time since 1999.
Following the Action
Illinois has set up a NCAA Tournament Central Page on its website that has links to live video, live stats, updated draws, ticket information, etc.
UCLA and Vanderbilt have only met twice in men's tennis. The Bruins beat the Commodores, 8-1 in a regular-season match in Los Angeles in 1981. Vanderbilt won the other meeting, downing UCLA, 4-3 in the NCAA Semifinals in Athens, Ga. in 2003. Vanderbilt would go on to lose in the NCAA Final to Illinois that year.
UCLA Against the NCAA Round of 16
UCLA has faced six of the other 15 teams that are still alive in the NCAA Tournament this season, owning a 9-1 record. The Bruins' wins were against USC (three times), Tennessee, Pepperdine, Cal (twice), Georgia and Baylor. UCLA's lone loss of the season came against USC at the Indoors.
UCLA at the NCAA Championships
UCLA is the only team in the country to compete in the NCAA Championships every season since the team format was adopted in 1977 (37 straight years). The Bruins have won 16 NCAA Championships, with the most recent one coming in 2005. Head coach Billy Martin has reached the quarterfinals or better in 18 of his 19 NCAA Tournament appearances. The only time that the Bruins didn't reach the quarterfinals was in 2011 when they were beaten by Baylor in the round of 16.
Bruins Cruise Through Regional Play
UCLA advanced to this week's NCAA Round of 16 by winning two regional matches last weekend at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. The Bruins beat both UMKC and Drake by 4-0 scores. With the two wins, UCLA improved its record to 32-0 all-time in NCAA Regional matches since regional competition was instituted in 1998.
Bruins Reach 26-Win Mark
UCLA heads into the round of 16 with 26 wins on the season, equaling last year's total. However, with their next victory, the Bruins will register the most wins in a season since the national championship team of 2005 finished 27-3 overall. If UCLA gets to 28 wins, it will mark the most wins for the program since 1986.
Three Bruins to Compete in NCAA Individual Championships
Three Bruin players will remain in Illinois after the team competition to take part in the NCAA singles draw, which runs from May 22-27. Marcos Giron, Dennis Novikov and Adrien Puget have all received at-large selections into the 64-player draw. All three players are ranked in the top 30 of the ITA rankings. The last Bruin player to win an NCAA singles title was Benjamin Kohlloeffel in 2006.
Bruins Claim Pac-12 Regular-Season and Tournament Titles
UCLA finished perfect in the Pac-12 for the second year in a row, ending the 2013 season with a 7-0 mark in league play. The Bruins were also 7-0 last year, however ended up losing to USC in the tournament final. UCLA didn't let that happen again, beating the Trojans for the third time this season in this year's final by a score of 4-2.
UCLA in the ITA Rankings
UCLA was ranked No. 1 in the final ITA team rankings of the regular season on May 2. The Bruins have been ranked in the top 5 all season long. Individually, UCLA has four players ranked in singles led by Adrien Puget at No. 22. He is followed in the top 30 by Marcos Giron (#25) and Dennis Novikov (#27). In doubles, Giron and Novikov are listed at No. 42, followed by Puget and Karue Sell at No. 77. New team and individual rankings will not be released again until the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament.
Martin, Novikov Earn Pac-12 Coach, Player of the Year Honors
UCLA head coach Billy Martin and sophomore standout Dennis Novikov both received outstanding recognition from the Pac-12 Conference on Tuesday, as Martin was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year and Novikov took home Pac-12 Player of the Year honors. Martin has guided the top-ranked Bruins to a 26-1 overall record in 2013, as UCLA captured both the Pac-12 regular-season and tournament titles. It marks the third time that Martin has been named coach of the year, also winning the award in 1996 and 2012(co). Novikov, who played 14 matches at the No. 1 position for the Bruins this year, owns an 18-10 overall singles record. He also notched 10 wins over ranked opponents. He is currently listed at No. 27 in singles and No. 47 in doubles (w/Marcos Giron) in the ITA rankings. He is UCLA's first conference player of the year since Benjamin Kohlloeffel in 2007.
Giron Leads Bruins in Singles Wins
With a 31-10 overall record, sophomore Marcos Giron leads the team in singles victories this season. He has also notched the most wins over ranked opponents with 13. His highest-ranked win this year came over No. 7 Mate Zsiga of Baylor during the fall. Giron reached a career-high No. 8 in the ITA singles rankings on March 12 of this year.
Thompson Peaking Heading into NCAA Play
Clay Thompson is peaking at the right time for the top-ranked Bruins, as the junior from Venice, Calif. takes a 12-match winning streak into UCLA's round of 16 showdown with Vanderbilt. Thompson, who is ranked No. 119 in the nation in singles and owns a 22-3 overall singles record, has not lost since falling to Tulsa's Carlos Bautista in a dual match on March 14.
Martin Headed Back to Illinois
Head coach Billy Martin is no stranger to the state of Illinois, as he was born in Evanston before going on to star at Oak Park River Forest High School. He played his freshman season there, winning the 1971 state singles championship. Champaign was the host city of that 1971 state tournament.
UCLA Leads the Nation in NCAA Titles
UCLA is the national leader in NCAA Championships with 108, followed by Stanford with 103. The last Bruin team to claim an NCAA title was women's volleyball, which won the program's first title in 20 years in December of 2011.
Giron Named ITA Southwest Region Player to Watch
Sophomore Marcos Giron was named the ITA's Player to Watch from the Southwest Region on Tuesday, meaning that he's in the running for the national award later this month. The last Bruin player to be named the ITA's Player to Watch for the Southwest Region was Rodrigo Grilli in 2002. UCLA has never had a national winner.
Bruins to Add U.S. Standouts McDonald, Brymer and DiGiulio in 2014
Three of the top 10 players in the nation are headed to UCLA next year, as U.S. standouts Mackenzie McDonald, Gage Brymer and Joseph DiGiulio have all signed letters-of-intent to become Bruins. The three California products are all currently listed as Blue Chip recruits and ranked in the top 10 in the class of 2013 according to TennisRecruiting.net (Brymer - #2, DiGiulio - #8 and McDonald - #10).
Head Coach Billy Martin
Head coach Billy Martin, who recently earned his second-straight Pac-12 Coach of the Year honor, takes an overall record of 453-91 into this week's round of 16 in Illinois. The 2013 season marks Martin's 30th year on staff, as he served as an assistant coach for 10 years prior to taking over for Glenn Bassett in 1994. He is only the fourth head coach in UCLA tennis history, following legends Bill Ackerman (1921-50), J.D. Morgan (1951-66) and Bassett (1967-93). Only three active coaches at UCLA have served longer at their current positions. Martin's finest season at UCLA came in 2005 when he led the squad to its first NCAA title since 1984. UCLA's 4-3 come-from-behind victory over top-seeded and undefeated Baylor that year marked the Bruins' 16th NCAA Championship in men's tennis. Inducted into the ITA Tennis Hall of Fame in 1996, Martin played just one season at UCLA before turning pro. In 1975 he guided the team to a perfect 19-0 dual-match record en route to an NCAA team championship during his freshman year. After capturing the 1975 NCAA singles championship, Martin turned professional.