April 11, 2011
LOS ANGELES - The second-ranked UCLA men's tennis team (15-6) is taking a break from Pac-10 Conference play this week and will host the seventh-ranked Florida Gators (14-7) this Friday at the Los Angeles Tennis Center beginning at 1:30 p.m. Although the match will not count in the conference standings, several Bruin players are excited for another shot at the Gators, who knocked UCLA out in the quarterfinals at last year's NCAA Championships in Athens, Ga.
"I thought we had a good chance to do something special last year so it was a hard way to end our season," said senior Holden Seguso on the team's 4-3 postseason loss to Florida. "I lost my match in the NCAAs so I have some extra motivation to win this week. Even though it's not the NCAA Tournament, we need to win this match to help our seeding this year."
UCLA enters Friday's contest on a seven-match winning streak, however the Bruins have not been able to practice for nearly six days due to rain in the Los Angeles Area. It's an area of concern for head coach Billy Martin.
"You never want to go into a match of this magnitude having not been on the court for close to a week," says Martin, who is 9-2 all-time against Florida. "Fortunately, we've had some good conditioning sessions indoors and we even did some tennis drills in Pauley Pavilion the other day. I think it might take us a little while to get into the match, but I'm confident my guys can pull through."
Friday's marquee matchup is the battle at No. 1 singles between UCLA's Daniel Kosakowski and Florida's Alex Lacroix. Both players are ranked in the top 10 of the ITA Rankings, with Kosakowski checking in at No. 6 and Laxroix at No. 9. Kosakowski won last year's battle in three sets at the NCAA Championships.
"It's always a tough battle when I face Alex," says Kosakowski, who takes a 22-11 overall record into the match. "We've been rivals since our junior days so we know each other's games very well. Hopefully I can play as well as I did at the NCAAs and get a win. But I know he won't make it easy on me."
Martin is hoping that another win over a top 10 opponent will not only bolster the team's national ranking, but prepare his squad for an upcoming stretch of three tough Pac-10 road matches. Following this Friday's contest with the Gators, the Bruins are scheduled to hit the road for showdowns against No. 21 Washington, Arizona and No. 3 USC.
"We would certainly like to keep the momentum going," says Martin on the team's seven-match winning streak. "I certainly don't want to head into next week on a losing note."
Amit Inbar will be representing Israel in a Davis Cup Qualifying match against Egypt on May 22 in Tel Aviv. Click HERE for more information.
Free pizza will be give out to the first 50 fans in attendance at Friday's match. There will also be a chance to win prizes during the Bruin Trivia Contest and Free Bruin Raffle.
There is no charge for admission to regular season matches at the Los Angeles Tennis Center
Danny Harrington covers men's and women's tennis for uclabruins.com. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org