LOS ANGELES - The UCLA men's tennis team earned a spot in the NCAA Round of 16 for the 37th year in a row on Saturday afternoon, as the top-seeded Bruins posted a 4-0 victory over Drake in an NCAA Second Round match at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. Next up for UCLA (26-1) is a showdown with 16th-seeded Vanderbilt (18-10) on Thursday, May 16 at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex at the Atkins Tennis Center in Urbana-Champaign, Ill. That match is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. (CST).
The Bruins, who breezed past UMKC, 4-0 in Friday's first round, looked just as sharp on Saturday, taking on a team that is ranked 31st in the nation in the latest ITA rankings. UCLA got off to a good start in doubles, jumping out to leads at court Nos. 1 and 2. Adrien Puget and Karue Sell, the country's 77th-ranked doubles team, looked solid at court No. 2, downing Ben Lott and Alen Salibasic, 8-3. That win set the stage for 42nd-ranked Marcos Giron and Dennis Novikov to clinch the point at court No. 1, where they beat Anis Ghorbel and James McKie, 8-6.
Already with a 1-0 advantage, UCLA capitalized on its strong start by winning the first set on all six courts. Bruin junior Clay Thompson, who did not play doubles for the Bruins on Saturday, turned in the most dominating singles performance of the afternoon at court No. 5, where he lost just one game in a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Jean Erasmus. Thompson, who has now won his last 12 singles matches, checks in at No. 119 in the latest ITA rankings.
Playing right next door to Thompson at court No. 4, Dennis Mkrtchian, who is ranked 75th in the country, would make the score 3-0 in favor of UCLA following his 6-2, 6-4 win over Salibasic.
Within a minute of Mkrtchian's victory, Giron would notch the match-clinching victory for UCLA at court No. 2, as he beat McKie, 6-3, 6-2 to give the Bruins a 4-0 victory. The win for the 25th-ranked Giron was his team-leading 31st of the season.
UCLA was leading at the three remaining singles courts when play was suspended, with Novikov, Puget and Sell all up a set in their respective matches.
With the loss, Drake ends its season with a 25-4 overall record.
NCAA Men's 2nd Round
#1 UCLA 4, #31 Drake 0
May 11, 2013 at Los Angeles, CA (Los Angeles Tennis Center)
1. #42 Giron/Novikov (UCLA) def. Ghorbel/McKie (DU) 8-6
2. #77 Puget/Sell (UCLA) def. Ben Lott/Salibasic (DU) 8-3
3. Alex Brigham/Mkrtchian (UCLA) vs. Erasmus/Goodman (DU) 5-7, unfinished
UCLA Wins Doubles Point
1. #27 Dennis Novikov (UCLA) vs. #65 Anis Ghorbel (DU) 6-4, 2-5, unfinished
2. #25 Marcos Giron (UCLA) def. James McKie (DU) 6-3, 6-2
3. #22 Adrien Puget (UCLA) vs. Robin Goodman (DU) 6-0, 4-4, unfinished
4. #75 Dennis Mkrtchian (UCLA) def. Alen Salibasic (DU) 6-2, 6-4
5. #119 Clay Thompson (UCLA) def. Jean Erasmus (DU) 6-1, 6-0
6. Karue Sell (UCLA) vs. Ben Mullis (DU) 7-6(0), unfinished
Drake 25-4; National ranking #31
UCLA 26-1; National ranking #1
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1); Singles (5,4,2)
UCLA advances to face Vanderbilt in the NCAA Round of 16 next Thursday