Defending Champs Fall to No. 2 Pepperdine, 4-1

May 22, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO - UCLA's hopes for a repeat men's tennis championship came to an end Sunday, as the defending champion 10th-seeded Bruins battled quick indoor courts and a spirited Pepperdine squad, falling 4-1 in the NCAA Quarterfinals at the San Francisco Tennis Club. The second-seeded Waves (34-2) advance to face Texas in Monday's semifinals, while UCLA ends its season with a 20-6 overall record.

Due to rainy conditions at Stanford, three men's quarterfinal matches were moved to the San Francisco Tennis Club's indoor facility. As a result, UCLA's scheduled 1:00 p.m. match was delayed more than four hours. Once on court, however, it was Pepperdine which came out firing in doubles, as the Waves took wins at court Nos. 2 and 3 to claim the point. Ivor Lovrak and Pedro Rico clinched the point with an 8-4 decision over Haythem Abid and Chris Surapol at court No. 2.

UCLA battled back shortly after singles play began, as Bruin junior Benjamin Kohlloeffel turned in another dominating performance, cruising to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over eighth-ranked Scott Doerner at court No. 1. Kohlloeffel, who is ranked No. 1 nationally, improved his record to 41-4 on the season.

Despite the quick Bruin victory, Pepperdine didn't panic, answering back with a pair of straight-set wins, as Lovrak downed UCLA's Mathieu Dehaine, 6-3, 6-3 at court No. 3, and Andre Begemann bested Bruin junior Philipp Gruendler, 6-3, 7-5 at court No. 4.

Leading 3-1 at this point, the Waves needed just one more victory to advance to the semifinals. They found it at court No. 2, where Rico, ranked 31st nationally, fought back from a set down to defeat Abid, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3.

"I knew we would have to play incredibly good tennis," said UCLA head coach Billy Martin. "Coming indoors didn't help us, but they had to face it too. They were just better prepared. We lost to a very good team. Abid played his best match of the year bar none. I'm not disappointed in him at all. He fought his heart out."

Unfortunately for the Bruins, Rico's victory suspended two matches in which UCLA had legitimate chances to win. Surapol was up a set and tied at 3-3 in the second against Richard Johnson at court No. 5, while Michael Look was leading Omar Altmann 2-1 in the third at court No. 6.

"Everybody was fighting hard and did the best they could do," said Kohlloeffel. "It was just tough luck. You can't make the weather and you can't make the courts, it was just unfortunate. I wouldn't blame (this loss) on our experience. The freshmen played great."

UCLA lost to Pepperdine, 4-3 during the regular season.

Unlike last year when the Bruins lost four starters from its NCAA title team, UCLA returns every player from this year's team next year.

Kohlloeffel and Gruendler are not done at Stanford, as the two will stick around for the singles and doubles draws which begin next week. Kohlloeffel is the No. 1 seed in the 64-player singles draw, while he and Gruendler are the No. 2 seeded duo in the 32-team doubles draw.

Doubles

Pos.OpponentsScore
1.Begemann/Doerner (Pepp) vs. (2) Gruendler/Kohlloeffel (UCLA)6-6, Susp.
2.Lovrak/Rico (Pepp) def. Abid/Surapol (UCLA)8-4
3.Altmann/Johnson (Pepp) def. Dehaine/Jeremy Drean (UCLA)8-5
Pepperdine Wins Doubles Point

Singles

Pos.OpponentsScore
1.(1) Benjamin Kohlloeffel (UCLA) def. (8) Scott Doerner (Pepp)6-2, 6-2
2.(31) Pedro Rico (Pepp) def. Haythem Abid (UCLA)4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3*
3.(92) Ivor Lovrak (Pepp) def. (100) Mathieu Dehaine (UCLA)6-3, 6-3
4.Andre Begemann (Pepp) def. Philipp Gruendler (UCLA)6-3, 7-5
5.(96) Chris Surapol (UCLA) led Richard Johnson (Pepp)7-5, 3-3 Susp.
6.Michael Look (UCLA) led Omar Altmann (Pepp)6-7(4), 6-1, 2-1 Susp.
* Denotes Clinching Match -- Singles Order of Finish: 1, 3, 4, 2

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