May 29, 2006
Stanford, Calif. - Benjamin Kohlloeffel became the first UCLA men's tennis player since 1975 to capture an NCAA singles title Monday, as the Bruin junior ended the school's 30-year championship drought with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Virginia's Somdev Devvarman in the finals at Stanford University.
The top-seeded Kohlloeffel, from Herne, Germany, wrapped up one of the most successful individual seasons in school history in 2006, ending the year with a 47-4 overall record and a 13-match winning streak. With his victory over the 14th-ranked Devvarman, he upped his record against ranked opponents this season to 31-2.
"I'm just really happy, it's such an incredible feeling to win the NCAAs," said Kohlloeffel. "We won it with the team last year and it was great and winning it individually, it makes me feel good. I'm happy to be the next Bruin to win it after coach (Billy) Martin."
Kohlloeffel played a near perfect first set, breaking Devvarman's serve in the fourth and sixth games to eventually take a 6-1 victory. Up a break in the second set, Kohlloeffel served for the match at 5-4. With three match points before him, he finished off Devvarman with a volley into the open court before sending a ball into the stands in celebration.
"I didn't come here with the expectation to win a round, I really wanted to go for it," said Kohlloeffel in reference to being the favorite. "But you can never plan it in the end, you know how tennis is and you know how many upsets there were during the tournament. I knew I had chances to win it, but you have to come out every day and fight hard for it because once you're sloppy or not focused, you lose. I was really nervous, I don't know if Somdev was as nervous as I was, but it was good to know that you were a break up and it makes you feel better. Once I was up 4-1, I started realizing that I could win it and it's a tough feeling. If you're close to closing it out, you have a lot of thoughts in your head and it's tough to play and tough to finish it."
Current head coach Billy Martin was the Bruins' last NCAA singles champion in 1975.
NOTES - Benjamin Kohlloeffel
Is 47-4 this season. Avenged three of his four losses during this week's tournament. Has won 27 of last 28.
Kohlloeffel became first Bruin since Justin Gimelstob in 1996 to reach No. 1 in Fila Rankings. Has held No. 1 ranking since April 4. Has been ranked in the top three the entire season.
Captured title at ITA National Indoor Championships in November in Columbus, Ohio. Lost in round of 16 at other national tournament of the fall - the Polo Ralph Lauren All-American Championships in Tulsa.
Became only the second player to win ITA National Indoor and NCAA titles in same season (other was Sargis Sargsian of Arizona State in 1995).
Became first UCLA player since his coach Billy Martin in 1975 to win NCAA singles title. Last Bruin to reach final was Jason Netter in 1990. All told, UCLA has had 10 NCAA singles champs: 1933 - Jack Tidball; 1950 - Herbert Flam, 1960 - Larry Nagler, 1961 - Allen Fox, 1965 - Arthur Ashe, 1966 - Charlie Pasarell, 1970 - Jeff Borowiak, 1971 - Jimmy Connors, 1975 - Martin. Bruins have reached the final 15 times overall.
2005 ITA National Rookie of the Year. Reached '05 NCAA singles QF; led Bruins to team championship.
Schools with most NCAA singles champs: 1) Harvard - 16, T2) Stanford and USC - 13, 4) UCLA - 10.
Road to the final: 1R - d. Vladimir Obradovic, Florida; 2R - d. Eric Molnar, Colorado; R16 - d. Pierrick Ysern, San Diego; QF - d. (6) Conor Niland, California; SF - d. Erling Tveit, Mississippi.