Jan. 10, 2000
LOS ANGELES - The top-ranked UCLA men's tennis team kicks off the 2000 dual match season on Wednesday, Jan. 12 when it hosts No. 54 San Diego State at 1:30 pm at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on the UCLA campus. Later this week, UCLA sends individuals to compete in the National Collegiate Tennis Classic at the Sherwood Country Club from Jan. 14-16.
About The Aztecs
Wednesday's match between UCLA and San Diego State is the first dual match for both teams in the 2000 season. The Bruins hold an undefeated 22-0 record against the Aztecs. Last year, UCLA defeated San Diego State 4-1 at the NCAA Region VII Championships and advanced to the NCAA Championships at Georgia. The Aztecs finished the '99 season with a 15-6 dual match record under head coach John Nelson.
No word better describes the 2000 Bruins than "hungry." After falling in the NCAA finals twice and reaching the semifinals four times under the direction of head coach Billy Martin, the Bruins are more eager than ever to prove their worth on the national collegiate scene. With four players who saw significant dual match action returning and the addition of some talented and promising newcomers, UCLA has a strong chance of achieving its goal. As in the past, the strength of the UCLA men's tennis team lies with its depth. Although the Bruins lose three valuable players from last year's squad, they are eight or nine players deep in singles this season.
Leading the way for the Bruins in 2000 is junior co-captain Jean-Noel Grinda, who will likely return to the No. 1 singles and doubles slots this year. A two-time All-America selection in singles and doubles who has played No. 1 in both for the past two years, Grinda underwent shoulder surgery in July but is expected to be healthy once the season gets underway.
The No. 2-5 positions will likely be between redshirt senior and co-captain Brandon Kramer, senior Jong-Min Lee, junior Chris Sands and freshman Lassi Ketola. Last season, Kramer started at No. 4 but has improved his game over the summer and is expected to play a bigger role on this year's squad. Lee played the No. 4 and 5 slots last year and has the potential to break into the top three. Sands, who played No. 4 and 5 last year, enjoyed a successful fall season and has proven that he is capable of stepping up if needed.
Ketola, one of the top junior players in the world, is a key newcomer who is expected to make a positive impact on the team this year.
As in the past, the competition for playing time will be great as four Bruins vie for the final spot in the lineup. Newcomers Erfan Djahangiri, Travis Rettenmaier and Jean-Julien Rojer will all be looking for a chance to prove themselves. Djahangiri is one of the top junior players out of Switzerland. Rettenmaier, who comes to UCLA after having graduated from high school early, helped capture the world 16 and under team championships for the United States. One of the top American juniors, he possesses great hands and can challenge opponents. Rojer is another top junior who comes to UCLA with a list of accolades. He is a solid player with a good all-around game and seems capable of breaking into the top six.
"We're about 10 or 11 players deep, which is great for the team practice-wise" Martin said. "It puts a little pressure on the guys. They know if they don't perform well and are letting things slide, the coaches are probably going to give someone else a chance. It's a good education for them."
This year's doubles lineup will be just as competitive. "There are going to be lots of different ways to go," Martin said. "With Ketola here and Grinda, Fleishman and Lee returning, there are a lot of possibilities. With Kramer and Sands stepping up their doubles games, they may also fit into the mix. " We're going to have to mix and match and see how personalities fit," Martin said.
With a talented core of athletes and matches against many Top 25 opponents, including No. 3 Stanford and No. 4 Duke, the Bruins look forward to a successful and competitive season.
UCLA returns home for for a five-match homestand from Thursday, Jan. 20 through Tuesday, Feb. 1. The Bruins host UNLV on Jan. 20 and then meet Fresno State on Jan. 26. Pac-10 action begins on Jan. 28 when the Bruins host Arizona and Arizona State the following day. UCLA will also hold its annual Bruin Racqueteer Day on Saturday, Jan. 22 at 9 am.