Sherwood Recap: Day #1

Hey Bruin fans! Thanks for checking out the site as I apologize for a lack of update until now. As you probably saw via the @uclatennis twitter (twitter.com/uclatennis or on this blog, too), it was a wild one out at Sherwood Country Club. Unfortunately for us, we did not fair too hot in day #1 on the singles competition. I’ll do a recap before briefly touching on tomorrow because, really, there will not be too much Bruin tennis to be played.

Though the stage was set for a big day of Bruin tennis–UCLA supports, beautiful LA weather, and excitement–I have to admit, Baylor, Stanford and USC definitely came ready to play today. And you have to first tip your cap to them.  I don’t know what it was, but the losing streak seemed to bounce around from court to court and some of our guys really had trouble getting going.

FIRST ROUND:

In the first round, Holden was the first to go down against Baylor’s Sergio Ramirez, 2-6, 5-7. Ramirez is a season, experienced player–as it Holden–but started off quick. I think you have to factor in a bit of rust for Holden, but again, Baylor went out and took the first set handily and it seemed like Holden was still trying to find his game. And then any player starts to press a bit and before you know it, the pressure is on you. Hopefully this will be a motivating match to get Holden geared up–with him, it’s definitely a combination of mental fortitude and physical strength that he needs to build up because the talent is there.

The next to go down were Jeff Gast and Evan Lee to Stanford’s Ryan Thacher 2-6, 2-6 and Baylor’s John Peers 0-6, 1-6, respectively. Look, I mean, you never count a player out in this sport and there is no doubt that I believe they could win each of these matches. But when it comes down to, Thacher and Peers are some of the better players in the country and just were too much for Jeff and Evan, two guys who are talented, but have had close to no playing experience. Neither got off to the hot start they needed and it is really hard to play the catch-up game against the top players.

And the losses kept-a-comin’ today unfortunately, as freshman Adrien Puget also lost a close 3-set match to Stanford’s Greg Hirshman, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6. If you read my preview, I definitely said this is a dangerous match and it proved to be true. Adrien truly is all-world talent and has a very big game. But he is rusty, new to the country, and new to college tennis. Hirshman played the big points well, including Puget’s double-fault on set point in the second set at 4-5, and just squeezed this match out as veteran players do. This will be a learning experience for Adrien and no doubt that he will become better because of it. Hats off to Hirshman, no doubt.

Last but not least, and maybe the most surprising, was Max falling easily to Baylor’s Roberto Maytin, 0-6, 3-6. I actually did not get to see this match, but from the sounds of it, it did not look pretty. I’m not really sure what happened out there….obviously Max had some fight in the second, but Maytin most likely crashed out the gate as I know Max lost the first set very quickly. Again, I just think it was him being rusty–for whatever reason–and just slow to really find his groove. It’s not an excuse, but knowing Max the way I do, he is very talented and one of those guys who just “needs to get going” and it sounds like he did not get going soon enough in this one.

BUT, low in behold, there were a few Bruin wins–and good ones at that! First, Senior Amit Inbar rolled through his first match against Baylor’s Denis Langsfeld, 6-1, 6-4. He played aggressive, was focused, and asserted himself like he needs to do this season. Again, the talent is there–I know it and see it everyday–it just is mental focus with Amit and making sure he enters every match with the correct mindset and game-plan. He took care of business this round.

Second, freshman Clay Thompson grinded a tough, tough match out against USC’s Peter Lucasson 4-6, 7-5, 6-1. Just man, kudos to him, and that’s a big one. Obviously, Lucasson is a big time player and Clay  was down 4-6, 4-5 with Lucasson serving for the match and pulled out the set and dominated the third. Clay, as well, as a huge game and he just needs to gain experience and sharped his mental aspects–after all, he’s only a true freshman. He will be counted on very heavily this season and pleased to see him come up big when it mattered.

Last but definitely not least, is my man Daniel Kosakowski. He’s only a true freshman, but he is already a team leader and the rest of the guys need to look up to him–he seriously came ready to play today and it showed as he cruised in his first round against Baylor’s Kike Grangiero 6-0, 6-1. Daniel, really, is incredible day and day out and is so dedicated to this sport, this team, and just improving himself everyday. I love watching him every time because he is out there giving it his all and every time….and that’s all you want in a teammate and player. Daniel is one of the best players in the country, even as a freshman, and I know this was just the start of many great things this season and beyond.

SECOND ROUND:

For the three guys that won, unfortunately, no one pulled through. Playing against one of the best in nation–if not THE best–#15 Bradley Klahn of Stanford just rocked my man Amit 0-6, 1-6. The guy is freakin’ good and just keeps getting better….his forehand is bigger and better than ever. As for Amit, I did not watch it all, but I don’t know; from what I heard, he seemed tentative unlike his first round and Klahn is too good to just leave mid-range balls up there. Compare that to his first-round and you’ll see the difference. Still, he will bounce back like he always does and show up better than ever when we go back at those Stanford guys this year.

Clay also lost his second round match to Jordan Rux of Baylor, 6-1, 4-6, 1-6. Rux is a Senior, a very talented player, and after won the second, turned it up a notch and took control of the match, from what I hear. Still, a solid showing for Clay after being Lucasson and taking Rux to 3-sets. There are no moral victories in tennis, but it’s a stepping stone and something to build on for Clay. I have a lot of confidence in his ability to step up this season.

And as Grant said, the “match of the day” as Daniel Kosakowski fell to #6 Steve Johnson of USC, 6-2, 4-6, 6-7 (5-7). Look, I wasn’t there for this match but after talking with Grant, it was pretty amazing. Or as he would say, “un-frickin-believable.” There is no doubt that Johnson is one of the best players in the country–maybe the best–and Daniel took him toe-to-toe and almost. Grant said it was one of those matches that it is unfortunate someone has to lose–and unfortunately for Daniel, it was him. But really, it was a coin toss out there I think and after all the amazing things Steve has accomplished at UCLA–#1 ranking, 2 National Championships, Indoor title, etc. Daniel was right there with him. But most of all, I was NOT surprised to hear about this match because I know the type of player–and person–that Daniel is and I think he put himself on the map this afternoon despite the loss. I can’t imagine how disappointed he must be, but I know we in Bruin Nation are all proud of him.

The Consolation matches went as followed:

C #64 Maxime Tabatruong (UCLA) def. Matt Kandath (Stanford) 6-1, 7-6 (7-3)
C Jeff Gast (UCLA) def. #61 Alex Clayton (Stanford) 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (10-8)
C Kike Grangeiro (Baylor) def. Adrien Puget (UCLA) 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 1-0 (10-8)
C Robert Verzaal (Baylor) def. Evan Lee (UCLA) 6-1, 4-6, 6-4
C Jamin Ball (Stanford) def. Holden Seguso (UCLA) 6-1, 6-1

So total, only Max and Jeff (which, kudos to him, took out AlexClayton from Stanford which is a big win) play tomorrow in the consolation. Hopefully they can win a few more matches and make some noise in the back draw–remember, it’s about “getting better out there Bruins” as Coach Martin always says and if this makes them get better, than so be it.

Anyway, that is my recap for Sherwood tonight! In Palm Springs, Warren lost a close 3-setter but Alex beat Alex Moss of Pepperdine, a good win for him. I’ll talk to Coach Kwinta tomorrow to find out more about how these are doing out there.

But again, no doubles tonight, which should be tomorrow. Unfortunately, it looks like the Bruin players have ended their stay early at Sherwood. All we can hope–and I know it to be true–is that it is a wake up call to everyone that the season is here and you gotta’ bring it every time. The competition is too good.

Until tomorrow….signing out and still cheering, GO BRUINS!

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