No. 8 UCLA Edges No. 12 Pepperdine, 4-3
Feb. 14, 2012
LOS ANGELES - Bruin freshman Marcos Giron picked up the biggest victory of his college career on Tuesday, winning the deciding singles contest to help the eighth-ranked UCLA men's tennis team to a dramatic 4-3 victory over No. 12 Pepperdine at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. The win keeps the Bruins perfect record intact, as UCLA now heads to this week's ITA National Team Indoor Championships with an 8-0 record. The Waves, who fall to 3-4 with the loss, have dropped their last four matches, all to top 10 opponents.
With Monday's dual match tied at 3-3, the result hinged on a tight battle at court No. 3, where Giron was taking on Pepperdine senior Alex Llompart. Both players split the opening two sets, with Giron taking the first 6-2 and Llompart posting a 6-4 decision in the second. Llompart started the third set strong, going up a break to take a 3-1 lead. However, after holding his serve at love, Giron broke back in the very next game to tie it at 3-3. Both players held serve for the next few games and with Llompart serving to stay in the match at 4-5, the two players played a marathon 10th game. Llompart was able to fight off three match points but eventually succumbed on the fourth, as Giron converted a backhand drop volley to take the third set 6-4 and give UCLA the 4-3 victory.
Tuesday's showdown might not have been as close had the Bruins won a tight battle at the No. 1 doubles position. After UCLA notched an 8-4 win at court No. 3, Pepperdine evened things up with an 8-5 win at the No. 2 spot. UCLA had a great opportunity to win the doubles point when Nick Meister and Adrien Puget were serving for the match up 7-6 at court No. 1 against Llompart and his partner Finn Tearney. The Bruin duo owned two match points on Meister's serve but couldn't convert, as the Waves broke back and eventually took the match in a tiebreaker 7-5.
UCLA shook off the tough loss in doubles and started strong in singles, taking four of six first sets. The Bruins dominated play at the back three courts on Tuesday, notching straight-set wins at the Nos. 4-6 positions to take a 3-1 lead in the match. Freshman Dennis Mkrtchian had the most routine win on the day, losing just three games in a 6-2, 6-1 victory over David Sofaer at court No. 6. Both Maxime Tabatruong and Puget followed suit, with Tabatruong downing Mousheg Hovhannisyan, 7-5, 6-2 at court No. 4, and Puget edging Jenson Turner, 7-6(4), 6-3 at court No. 5.
With UCLA now leading 3-1, the Waves needed to sweep play at the top three positions to pull off the upset. At the time of Puget's victory, Pepperdine's Sebastian Fanselow was leading Meister, 6-4, 5-3 at court No. 1, and Tearney was up 6-2, 5-1 on UCLA's Clay Thompson at court No. 2. The Waves would win both contests to tie the match at 3-3, setting the stage for the dramatic finish at court No. 3.
Last season's contest in Malibu was just as tense, with UCLA also notching a close 4-3 victory.
UCLA leaves tomorrow for the ITA National Team Indoors in Charlottesville, Va. The Bruins open up play on Friday against Duke at 12:30 p.m. (PST).
#8 UCLA 4, #12 Pepperdine 3
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