LOS ANGELES - The top-seeded UCLA men's tennis team got through its NCAA Round of 16 match without any trouble on Thursday evening, dispatching of No. 16 Vanderbilt, 4-0 at the University of Illinois' Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex at the Atkins Tennis Center. With the win, UCLA (27-1) advances to Saturday's quarterfinals where it will meet No. 9 Duke, which pulled off the slight upset over No. 8 Kentucky, 4-2 on Thursday. That quarterfinal showdown is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. (CST).
"Everyone's a little nervous but that's probably the good thing about having some guys that have been (at the NCAAs) before," said UCLA head coach Billy Martin. "Except for Karue (Sell), our number six, everyone has been through this before and I think that always helps to have guys who have gone through this who won't be quite as jittery. I thought we started off really well in the doubles. Third doubles really led us. We also got off to a good start at No. 1, so it wasn't quite so intense from the start. We got off to a good start also in the singles so, all in all, really happy to get through the first one."
The Bruins' third doubles team of Alex Brigham and Clay Thompson really set the tone in doubles play on Thursday, cruising to an 8-0 victory over Vanderbilt's Suresh Eswaran and Jeff Offerdahl. UCLA's No. 1 doubles team of 42nd-ranked Marcos Giron and Dennis Novikov then brought the point home for the Bruins, as they pulled off a slight upset over 38th-ranked Gonzales Austin and Ryan Lipman, 8-4.
Similar to his strong showing in doubles, Thompson, who is ranked 119th nationally, played a near perfect match in singles against the Commodores, downing Marc van der Merwe, 6-1, 6-2 at court No. 5 to put the Bruins ahead 2-0. It marked Thompson's 13th-straight win.
, which had already claimed the first set on all six singles courts, would go up 3-0 shortly thereafter, as 22nd-ranked Adrien Puget notched a 6-2, 6-1 win over Offerdahl at court No. 3. Puget trails only Thompson in consecutive singles victories, as he posted his sixth in a row on Thursday.
Following Puget's victory, most of the attention then turned to court No. 6, where Bruin freshman Karue Sell was the closest to finishing, as he was up a set and leading 5-3 over Vanderbilt's Rhys Johnson. After owning several match points in the ninth game, Sell closed out the win, taking a 6-4, 6-3 victory to put UCLA into the NCAA Quarterfinals.
"First match, you always want to get this first win out of the way," said Sell. "I was fighting a lot every point so I was kind of tired, but at the end of the game everything worked out so it was perfect. Overall I think we will have a good day of rest tomorrow so we can start playing better and better."
When play was suspended, Mkrtchian and Giron were both up a set in their matches at court Nos. 4 and 2, respectively. Novikov had just split sets with Lipman at court No. 1.
UCLA has yet to drop a point in this year's NCAA Tournament, winning all three of its matches by 4-0 scores.
Notes: With the loss, Vanderbilt ends its 2013 campaign with an 18-11 record ... Thursday's meeting was the first between the two teams since 2003 (NCAA Semifinals) ... The Bruins posted their 27th win of the season, giving the team its most wins in a season since 2005 when UCLA won the NCAA title.
NCAA Round of 16
#1 UCLA 4, #16 Vanderbilt 0
May 16, 2013 at Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex (Champaign, IL)
1. #42 Giron/Novikov (UCLA) def. #38 Austin/Lipman (VAN) 8-4
2. #77 Puget/Sell (UCLA) vs. Rhys Johnson/van der Merwe (VAN) 5-5, unfinished
3. Alex Brigham/Thompson (UCLA) def. Suresh Eswaran/Offerdahl (VAN) 8-0
UCLA Wins Doubles Point
1. #27 Dennis Novikov (UCLA) vs. #10 Ryan Lipman (VAN) 6-3, 3-6, unfinished
2. #25 Marcos Giron (UCLA) vs. #48 Gonzales Austin (VAN) 6-1, 6-5, unfinished
3. #22 Adrien Puget (UCLA) def. Jeff Offerdahl (VAN) 6-2, 6-1
4. #75 Dennis Mkrtchian (UCLA) vs. Kris Yee (VAN) 6-4, 3-3, unfinished
5. #119 Clay Thompson (UCLA) def. Marc van der Merwe (VAN) 6-1, 6-2
6. Karue Sell (UCLA) def. Rhys Johnson (VAN) 6-4, 6-3
Vanderbilt 18-11; National ranking #16
UCLA 27-1; National ranking #1
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (5,3,6)