Archive for the ‘General News’ category

THE FINAL BLOG: Once a Bruin, Always a Bruin [Season Recap and More]

May 21, 2011

It has been a little over 24 hours since our 5-hour marathon loss to Baylor occurred in the NCAA Round of 16 up here in Palo Alto. Last night it was mere shock but today it has been anything but–I woke up nauseated thinking about how close we were and how we won’t be playing another match. The pain is still there like a stinging rebuke to my insides. Admittedly, I feel horribly empty with how we ended the season with so much tennis left to be played. And most troublesome, my heart still heavily aches just thinking about “what could have been.”

But as the saying goes, time heals all wounds…and surely the sheer hurt from this match will subside. And once that pain, that disappointment, that frustration, and that hurt disappears, pride will take its place; pride for our school, pride from of our effort, pride for each other. As Coach Martin said in our post-match meeting late last night, we have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and absolutely everything to be proud of. We all fought with every ounce of our hearts and souls and laid it out there on the court (and in the stands); we lost to a great Baylor team who literally won one more point than we did. And that is sports–a game of inches. Coach Martin always said–and reiterated at our final meeting–that it takes courage to put yourselves out there for that jubilating win and yes, that heartbreaking loss. We did that and unfortunately, ended up on the wrong side of the equation. But again, this “heartbreak” will fade and the pride for what we did accomplish and the courage we did show–together–will grow.

You know, some people say that all of this tennis business is about winning an NCAA Championship. And you know what else? Two or three years ago, I would have completely agreed with that statement. Heck, I would have been willing to do just about anything for that coveted NCAA ring and to waive that championship banner. And in many ways I still would, no doubt. But as I leave college tennis forever (I think, at least), I’ve grown to realize it not really about winning the championship. Sure, don’t get me wrong, winning would of been beyond amazing and extremely memorable; I’m the most competitive guy in the world and I still can’t stand losing. Yet, while we might of lost on paper, we did not lose as people–as growing adolescents in this thing called life. Because playing sports and being part of team–no, part of an institution such as UCLA tennis and a program with such great people–is about so much more. It’s about personal growth, learning responsibility, developing a work ethic, trusting other people, and pouring your heart (and every ounce of sweat, in this case) into something that you can be proud of and forever a part of. Seeing alumni who played for UCLA thirty years ago and just a few years ago is downright inspiring. Simply put, I am a drastically different person than I was when I started with the team four quick seasons ago–and a better person because of those four years. No, I didn’t win a championship that I wanted and truthfully, thought I would be a part of when I started. But, what I understand now, is that I gave this team and this program everything I could and got out of it everything and more. And in return, I received lasting friendships, unforgettable memories, and grew as not just a competitor and manager–or in many players’ cases, as an athlete–but as a person navigating college and navigating who I was as I grew up from a kid to a young adult.

There is so much to say about this match, this season, and my own experience as a Bruin the last four years–you know me, I could write forever. But what I also have understood is that it is not about me or about any one person, but about the team and the life of this program. As Coach Martin also always says and knows from experience, college sports are a “revolving door.” Myself, Amit, and Holden may all be gone next year, but UCLA tennis will carry on–with new bloodlines and new players, but with the same excitement and passion. Such is the life of college sports and no matter how unfortunate it is, it is the reality we all must embrace.

And on that note, this may seem like a “goodbye post,” but truthfully, it is not–it is only a “see you later” type of message. Players will be gone and I will move into the next stage of my life (I will be pursuing a Masters degree at Columbia University in New York), but not without a lasting passion and portion of my heart always dedicated to UCLA tennis. We may not have won the big championship this year, but I won by being a part of such an amazing community of people–and to “manage” (so to speak) under such incredible, warm, and caring coaches. We all win by being a part of UCLA tennis. It is this connection and spirit that for me and for all of us will never, ever fade. It is why we drive up 500 miles to see the Bruins play and why we wear the blue and gold with so much exuberance on and off the court. And above all, it is why Bruin tennis will only continue to get stronger in the months and years ahead.

Before I sign off one final time, it is only appropriate to discuss a few pressing matters. First, I want to congratulate both Amit Inbar and Holden Seguso on extraordinary Bruin careers. Both gave much to UCLA tennis and each had some enormous moments that I know each will cherish–I speak on behalf of Bruin nation when we say “thank you” for all you have given to this program. All the best in the years to come. No matter where life takes both of you, each will always be a Bruin.

And second, good luck to next year’s team–truthfully, in my heart of hearts I know it will be a special year for UCLA tennis. And not just because of the insane amount of talent coming back on next years team, but because of the character of each returning player. Daniel, Clay, Adrien, Alex, Warren, Max, and Nick, you all have extremely bright futures in this sport and are each going to do special things next year and in years to come. We all cannot wait to watch it all! You have everyone’s support as you continue (or conclude) your Bruin careers.

Last of all, thank YOU, our loyal Bruin supporters for everything–I personally am indebted to your support and I know the team is too. I talk about how special it is to be a Bruin, and YOU are all the reason why. So thank you for all you do for this team and a personal thank you for reading (and commenting) on this blog. I hope to stay in touch with you all and you can of course follow me on my personal blog, too, which I will shift over to immediately.

Anyway, it is with a deep sense of gratitude and humility that I sign off one final time as a member of the UCLA Bruin tennis team; it is still hard to believe how fast four years have flown by and hard to accurately reflect on all my emotions and feelings in one final (and readable!) blog post. The only appropriate thing to sum everything up is through a simple, but powerful phrase that my high school English teacher once told my class. It was from a poem and he said that no matter what we do in life, MAY GREAT KINDNESS OF IT IN THE END. Well, my friends, as I have hit the end of my “official” Bruin tennis career, I can undoubtedly say that great kindness, indeed, came of it in the end.

GO BRUINS!

-Barry

Bruins still waiting to go on…

May 19, 2011

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…we could go on in ten minutes or an hour. Florida and Kentucky are in an epic match as the Wildcats lead 3-2. However, this thing is far from over because the other matches are not decided and who knows what could happen.

As for us, our hoard of Bruin fans are here! We are personally waiting in our waiting room for the word that it is over–we will probably have just 10 minutes from the end of this match until ours starts….so it’s a quick turn around and we cannot get complacent here.

I feel another classic UCLA-Baylor coming up soon…LETS GO!

PS I uploaded a few videos the last few hours on the YouTube channel, too.

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(Quiet) Sunday Update

May 15, 2011

Good evening everyone,

I meant to post earlier today but got carried away with a few things for the trip and preparing my own self for being away for what I hope will be eight days! Regardless, today was indeed a quiet day; the ladies successfully–and a lot less dramatically–punched their ticket to Palo Alto and I know most of our guys got out and hit a few balls today just to stay sharp. Again, not to get a full workout/practice but just to keep their timing.

And other than that, is a day to prepare. Admittedly, I am just beginning to catch my breath from yesterday’s thrilling match but at this point, we have to put it past us. Today we can still reflect but by tomorrow, our bags are packed and we are solely focused on the road ahead. As I said in my blog last night, the whole situation is a bit ironic to me at least–we were literally points away from not even making it to Palo Alto and yet, I feel that we really do have as good of chance as anyone to make a run at this thing.

But we still have three days until we play a really, really good and always-tough Baylor team who are seeded 5 for a reason. Until then, we are driving up with the girls team tomorrow in a giant bus, which will be a really fun (and new) experience for everyone. I’ll keep you updated tomorrow as we make our way to Palo Alto–literally that is!

Thanks for the support everyone. GO BRUINS!!

The day before the storm!

May 12, 2011

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Good afternoon Bruin aficionados! It’s a beautiful spring day here at UCLA and slowly but surely the buzz is starting to develop around LATC. Our opponent, the Binghamton Bearcats, practiced this morning and looked ready to go. Ole Miss just arrived for their hit about an hour ago, too–it’s here folks!!

Anyway, the guys are getting their NCAA-allowed two hour hit and Coach Martin has them really focused; no talking on the court, all hitting. And that’s how it should be…we have to get not only our bodies ready for what is before us but maybe even more importantly, our minds.

I had a chance to speak with one of our two seniors, Amit Inbar, about this being his last full practice at UCLA. You’ll see the picture below–he is ready to go and excited to lead this team tomorrow and as far as we go!

Tonight we will have our customary team dinner prior to our 1st Round match. I’ll blog after and give my pre-game analysis for the match tomorrow. Hopefully I get to do many of them!

Stay tuned and check often–GO BRUINS!

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You know it’s NCAA tourney time when…

May 11, 2011

…we get to litter the office with cans of tennis balls and sort them for numbers 1-4.20110511-023615.jpg

…we go and buy 20 gallons of water to keep everyone hydrated ahead of time!

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…laundry becomes an urgent high priority activity.

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…we start rolling the umpire chairs out in style.

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…the tennis courts at LATC are completely booked!

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Oh and that is just a sample! In all seriousness, things are getting excited–or at least I am amped to go. Both Binghampton and Ole Miss get into LA tonight and will practice this evening at LATC. And once we see them, it all officially starts in our minds and attitudes.

Until then though, Coach Kwinta is out here instructing today’s practice in what has become a beautiful spring LA day.

GO BRUINS!

IT’S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP TIME! [NCAA Draw Analysis and more!]

May 10, 2011

To answer that question myself, I sure am!! 🙂 Hello to my loyal Bruin faithful out there! Apologize for the delay on posting about the NCAA Championship draw–it has been a crazy week and a half as I went home to visit my family in St. Louis for the first time in over a year and a half, had two midterm papers, and an research conference that I had to prepare for. But from here on out, it is ALL NCAA Championship and UCLA tennis time. I cleared my schedule and starting right now, there is nothing on my mind except NCAA’s, and I could not be any more excited! I promise to blog every day starting tonight and of course, constantly once the matches start. (Hopefully I’ll be blogging for a long time!) It is my last NCAA’s and want to make the best of it! As I begin my final quest for that ever-elusive championship, I thank you for your support and readership–the best is yet to come!

With all that being said, it’s hard to believe the NCAA Championships are finally among us. After a long season and all the matches and just everything, it is finally here. After last year’s Quarterfinal loss to Virginia, I remember thinking that it will be forever until we would have another chance at the NCAAs…well, it is here, folks. THE EXCITEMENT IS HERE! The NCAA Championships are the pinnacle of college tennis and the debut the draw last Tuesday was the first step. So, as I begin the NCAA stretch of blogs, it is only appropriate I address the draw and my initial thoughts. First, you can check out the NCAA bracket HERE. Second, you can view the NCAA Selection Show HERE. (UCLA is mentioned just after the 12 minute mark–it’s a great introduction to the teams in the tourney.) Here is my breakdown of our draw, and the draw in general:

GENERAL THOUGHTS:

  • No doubt #1 ranked Virginia, at 29-0, is the heavy, heavy favorite to win this year; they have absolutely dominated and are as talented as any college team in my four years, so they come into this draw as the overall #1 seed without a surprise. Virginia and Stanford are headed for a collision course in the Quarterfinals if the seeds hold, and that would be an extremely exciting match to watch with the home crowd behind the Cardinal. The pressure is on Virginia to win, who have entered each of the last three seasons undefeated and #1 seed–is this the year they win it all?
  • Other than Virginia, I think this bracket is really wide open–there are a bunch of really good teams who all have chance to make the Final Four, and I think no one region is more loaded than the other. In my four years, this is by far the most “open” tournament ever–again, outside Virginia, I really feel every team in the top 15 or so has the potential to beat the others and so I can bet on some upsets this tournament.
  • Regionals rounds (1st and 2nd rounds): Tougher than normal? Going with my last point, there are some really big/tough regional match-ups for the hosting teams. Texas, despite being ranked in the Top 16,  surprisingly, did NOT host. Instead, they will travel to host Oklahoma which, if they both win their first rounds, will be excited. Same for a potential UNC-Illinois rematch from earlier in the year. A potential Baylor-Texas Tech Big 12 clash could also happen, too. And lastly, of course (which I will discuss) is our potential matchup against Ole Miss. Don’t sleep on these early match-ups!
UCLA DRAW ANALYSIS: 
First, I do not like to go to too much into potential match-ups because hey, we have to win first and it is always premature to starting analyzing potential match-ups. There are too many good teams this year and who knows–it’s one match at a time! We have to work hard to earn our spot and trust me, from experience, anything can happens–and usually does–at NCAA’s! But, of course, it would be impossible to not mention the hypothetical match-ups and I do have confidence in our team. I’ll tread carefully.
  1. 1st Round: We will take on the Binghampton Bearcats, who are 12-13 on the season. Obviously, they won their conference tourney but as long as we come out firing and ready to go, we should pull through rather easily. However, it is important that we don’t “sleepwalk” through this match but use it as a building block for a tough second round match.
  2. 2nd Round: If we beat Binghampton, we will play the winner of UC Irvine-Ole Miss. Now, we played Irvine early in the year and beat them, so we think that we will play Ole Miss. Now, this is a really tough 2nd round regional match–only two years ago at College Station, Texas, we defeated them in the Quarterfinals 4-3, thanks to a Nick Meister third set miracle match that won it for us. Obviously, they are not the same team they were two years ago but goodness, they are a battle tested team and you don’t lose that much talent in two years. They are a top team. Although their record at 12-9 may seem unimpressive, they played in the ultra-competitive SEC Conference–home to four top ten teams in Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia. Our match against them was the most memorable of my career so I know how tough the Rebels are.
  3. Round of 16 and on: There is too much at stake to overlook any team and if (and we fully expect) to get through the Regional Rounds, we will take it from there and I’ll analyze each match when it happens. But, I will say, we like are happy about our draw. The higher seed we would potentially play would probably be Baylor, whom we beat early in the year.  Of course, they are a different (IE. much better) team then they were when we beat them but we like to think we are better, too. Still good when you’ve beaten the higher seed you can face. And then, if we can slip past Baylor, we will most likely take on the #4 Ohio State Buckeyes. They are 30-2 and having an amazing season (as usual) but I think they match up well with us and the Big 1o is a bit down in years past. And somehow, if we get past them (and this is looking SO far down the road….), we would most likely play the winner of Virginia-Stanford. And really, at that point folks in the Semifinals, you are just fortunate to be there and we will take our chances against either team.
So that’s that–SO much to think about, analyze, ponder, and just get excited about. This is an exciting time for the sport and of course, for our program so I encourage all of you to stay-up-to-date and get involved this NCAA season. Saying it’s tough to win an NCAA Championship is a massive understatement, so we need all the support we can get!
So come out and cheer us on this weekend and if we can make it to Palo Alto, come up there and cheer us on! But first things first, take care of business this weekend. That’s our focus and it’s all starts in the upcoming day. Brace yourself Bruin fans, the NCAA Championships are here! 🙂
GO BRUINS!!!!

Day 1 Bruin Recap at Pac-10 Championships

April 28, 2011

Hey Bruin fans–sorry for a late-ish update! Finally getting a chance to blog after a very busy day and I think overall, it really pretty well. It was a beautiful day in Ojai and as always, a great crowd for all of us. The day started off early, with most of us waking up at the crack of dawn; Adrien had an 8am match as Warren and Max followed at 9:30am.

Adrien, despite an initial slow start, dominated his opponent from Washington, winning with ease 6-4, 6-1. At one point, he won 14 straight points and 6 straight winners! Following him, Max lost a rough match to Stanford’s Dennis Lin; admittedly, I think Max would say it was not his finest match. He got off to a slow start and never really recovered. But for the Bruins, the action kept going like a domino….Max lost but Warren’s match had started down on the Lower Libbey courts (for those people who have been to Ojai before) and he won decisively against Cal’s Sky Lovill. Despite recovering from illness, he showed a lot of heart and battled that one out.

The next “batch” of matches started with Alex Brigham as he took on USC’s Steve Johnson, the #1 ranked player in the nation. Obviously, this is a tough matchup for any player, but overall, Alex really made him earn it and battled hard. He ended up losing 6-3, 6-4 (I believe off the top of my head) and both sets were very, very competitive. Despite being down 1-4 in the second set, he battled back to make it 4-4 before losing the last two games. Still, a solid effort against one of the best in the country. Behind him on court with Mr. Clay Thompson, who absolutely drilled Johnathon Dahan from Cal–he used his big forehand and big serve to win points and took Dahan out with relative ease. Clay has been playing some great tennis recently and this morning was no different. Lastly, Amit, too, has been playing well coming off his big USC win, and dominated Arizona’s Frank Chen in about an hour–6-0, 6-3.

So, with Alex and Max out and Warren done for the day (he is in the Invitational Draw and only played one match today), the second round would feature Adrien, Amit, and Clay–in that order. Adrien, by far, wins the Bruin MVP for the day–he took on Stanford’s no. 2 player Ryan Thacher after a tight first set, he came back to win the second before winning an absolutely epic third set tiebreak, 7-5! A HUGE win for Adrien that showed both his skillset and heart. Great effort against a really, really great player in a pressure-packed match situation. Amit, too, took on one of those Stanford Cardinal’s; Amit played the very talented Alex Clayton, and won in straight sets after a very tight first set tiebreak that he pulled out. Amit showed the confidence in that first set and big win for him, too, against a great player as well. Unfortunately, Clay did not fare so hot–he lost his match 3-6, 5-7 against Raymond Sarmiento of USC. I did not get to see it, honestly, but the way Clay was playing, Sarmiento must of played well and I’ll have to talk to Clay and see what happened. Still, it’s his first Pac-1o Championships of many and no doubt he will have great success here in the future.

Overall, I think, today’s was pretty successful–we have two guys in the main draw singles and one in the Invitational draw, with doubles starting tomorrow. The weather was great, guys had a good time, and it was, again, a relatively great day all around. Compared to duel matches, the Ojai tournament is a breeze; it is pretty relaxed and no doubt we all felt that–for better or for worse–today. So that’s a wrap from Ojai.

GO BRUINS!