UCLA to Play in Pac-12 Tournament Final
Ojai, Calif. - The top-seeded UCLA men's tennis team booked its spot in the final of the Pac-12 Championships on Friday afternoon, posting a 5-0 semifinal victory over fourth-seeded Cal at Libbey Park in downtown Ojai. With the win, the Pac-12 regular-season champion Bruins (22-2) are just one win away from capturing the conference's inaugural team tournament title. UCLA will play the winner of Friday's late match between second-seeded USC and third-seeded Stanford on Saturday at 4:00 p.m.
Friday actually marked the fourth meeting between the two conference rivals this year, with the previous three contests all going in UCLA's favor. Although UCLA barely edged Cal in the first two meetings this season, the Bruins' confidence was high after registering a 7-0 win over the Bears less than two weeks ago at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. UCLA wasted no time getting on the board in Friday's match, taking the doubles point with wins at court Nos. 2 and 3. Marcos Giron and Warren Hardie posted the clinching win at the No. 3 spot when they downed Gregory Bayane and Andrew Scholnick, 8-5.
Already with a 1-0 advantage, UCLA came out and took four of six first sets in singles play. Sophomore Clay Thompson, who checks in at No. 73 in the latest ITA singles rankings, posted a slight upset at the No. 2 spot to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead, downing 56th-ranked Nick Andrews, 6-2, 6-3. Playing down on Libbey's lower courts at the No. 6 position, freshman Dennis Mkrtchian, who had to fight off two sets points in the first set against Chase Melton, eventually posted a 7-6(6), 6-3 win to give UCLA a 3-0 lead.
The Bruins then had two matches finish within a minute of each other, as freshman Dennis Novikov clinched the win at court No. 3 when he downed Bayane, 6-2, 7-5. Sophomore Adrien Puget accounted for the team's fifth point of the afternoon, as he was able to beat Riki McLachlan, 7-5, 6-2 at court No. 5 before play was suspended. With the win, Puget, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week, extended his singles winning streak to 18.
UCLA split its two matches with USC this season, as the Trojans notched a 6-1 win over the Bruins at the LATC on Feb. 29, and UCLA registered a 4-3 road win over USC on April 20, halting the Trojans' 45-match winning streak. The Bruins downed Stanford in both contests this year.
#5 UCLA 5, #14 Cal 0
Apr 27, 2012 at Ojai, CA (Libbey Park)
1. #44 Alex Brigham/Puget (UCLA) vs. #5 Andrews/Konigsfeldt (CAL) 4-7, unfinished
2. Meister/Novikov (UCLA) def. #56 Carlos Cueto/B. McLachlan (CAL) 8-3
3. Giron/Warren Hardie (UCLA) def. Bayane/Andrew Scholnick (CAL) 8-5
UCLA Wins Doubles Point
1. #17 Nick Meister (UCLA) vs. #44 Ben McLachlan (CAL) 4-6, 4-4, unfinished
2. #73 Clay Thompson (UCLA) def. #56 Nick Andrews (CAL) 6-2, 6-3
3. Dennis Novikov (UCLA) def. Gregory Bayane (CAL) 6-2, 7-5
4. #71 Marcos Giron (UCLA) vs. Chris Konigsfeldt (CAL) 5-7, 4-5, unfinished
5. #46 Adrien Puget (UCLA) def. Riki McLachlan (CAL) 7-5, 6-2
6. Dennis Mkrtchian (UCLA) def. Chase Melton (CAL) 7-6(6), 6-3
Cal 12-11; National ranking #14
UCLA 22-2; National ranking #5
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3); Singles (2,6,3,5)