Archive for the ‘Match Post-Game’ 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 fall 4-3 to Baylor in five hour thriller

May 20, 2011

Hard to put it all in words tonight Bruin nation–our journey stopped early, unfortunately. Thank you ALL for your support tonight…I will personally remember this night for years to come.

I’ll blog tomorrow with my final thoughts on everything. Heartbreaking (in every sense of the word) loss but extremely proud of the team–and even prouder to be a Bruin. Until tomorrow, good night and GO BRUINS.

Bruins secure Round of 16 bid in Palo Alto (2nd Round Match Recap)

May 14, 2011

“On the verge of having its season end in regional play for the first time in school history, the 12th-seeded UCLA men’s tennis team pulled off a dramatic comeback on Saturday, clawing out a 4-3 victory over Ole Miss in an NCAA Second Round match at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.”

That all sums it up there, right? No problem, eh? Well, let’s just say it was a match for the ages and there was a whole lot of “stuff” that happened in between. Although I knew it would be a tough match, I of course never expected it to come down to a few points or so that would decide whether I get to go to the NCAA Championships. I’m still trying to catch my breath and find the words describe the sense of relief–in all honesty–that we are all going. Not only did I tell my parents to buy tickets last week to Palo Alto (and so they would of been out hundreds of bucks!), more importantly, I just did not want to “go out” like that without having one more crack at a Championship. Luckily for me, the courageous players on this team did not let that happen.

Following the doubles point, we knew we had our work cut out for us–winning four singles always puts a little bit of added pressure. And right from the get go, things were pretty tight but still looking pretty positive; Daniel had won an easy first set as did Max, and Clay and Amit both were out grinding in tight ones. Despite Holden and Adrien losing their first sets, I felt confident in the other three matches.

But as these roller coaster matches go, things got really, really tight and downright confusing; I always say that the match eventually develops into a “we need this win” situation where we can predict what wins we will get to take the overall match. Man, I’ll tell ya’, I never hit that point until the very end! Amit won an epic first set tiebreaker while Clay lost one where he had set points–and then DK lost the second set quickly 1-6. So two matches that I we started well off became questionable. As the match pushed on, things most definitely swayed towards Ole Miss. I do want to give a shout out to Max who has just played unbelievable through two rounds of this tournament–aggressive, focused, he tied the match at 1-all.

And then, going to be my point, it was all the Rebels from there. Adrien eventually went down in straight sets and Clay similarly lost in straights after a close first set. So just like that, we were down 3-1 in the match and down to our last breaths. Holden had won his second set, Amit lost his second set and DK was entering a third….could things better ANY crazier?! I kept thinking to myself that for us to win this match and avoid a colossal upset, everything has to go perfectly–and to the credit of DK, Amit, and Holden, it actually did….

…well for a while. Amit was neck and neck in the third set while Holden started the set down 0-2 and game points. And DK was battling hard on serve, too. By this point, I was just pacing around and running from court to court hoping, praying, do anything possible I could to cheer these guys on! Amit kept grinding while Holden came back from his early break to go up 5-3 match points. So just while it looked like we might actually pull this thing out, DK gets broken at 4-4 in the 3rd set.

Honestly, it was then that I realized we might lose this match–up to then I still thought we would pull through but it was officially then that it dawned on me that Ole Miss was four service points away from ending my Bruin career early. BUT IT WAS NOT TO BE! Daniel, showing such amazing heart that he has ALL season long, fought back to break Ole Miss in one of the most spirited games I’ve ever seen. The crowd was going nuts, DK was going nuts, and not for a second did he–or us–ever believe he could not win this match. Down 15-0, he hit the hugest running forehand passing shot and a few points later at 30-30 (Ole Miss being two points away from winning! UNREAL!), DK came up with the bigs and won the match for us. And shifting momentum, our Senior and our Captain, Amit Inbar, broke his opponent at 5-3 and closed out the match–ending his Bruin career in style. His opponent is a top players and Amit played with heart and was determined to not go out this way.

So it came down to Holden. After being up 5-3 and having match points at 5-4, Holden got broken and then found himself down 5-6, serving to stay in the match–and serving for our NCAA hopes and dreams. Ole Miss also was two points away in this game from winning it all but “The Goose” as we call him, came through, forced a tiebreak, and won it for us as we all rushed the court after. It truly an unforgettable match!

And yet, although I’ve been a part of great matches like this before, this was a bit different; UCLA had never not made it to the Round of 16 so this was more a sense of relief, than anything. And now I am just so excited for Palo Alto. If there is any doubt in any Bruin’s mind about the character, heart, and determination of this team, it was put to rest tonight; with our backs against the wall, our Seniors and the rest of the team stepped up today. It was beautiful and I feel fortunate to be a part of it. I’m so proud of these guys and extra proud–and happy–for Amit and Holden to end their playing career at LATC in such dramatic fashion.

Looking ahead, I have never been so excited for NCAA’s so far–I feel confident in this team and excited to have Bruin nation up there traveling with us. A win is a win and we are through, and I’m incredibly grateful. There is no doubt that we can make a run at this and as Amit said in his post-match interview (check it out HERE), hopefully we can make a deep run at this thing and I wholeheartedly agree.

Thanks again for everyone for coming out today. See you up in Palo Alto. GO BRUINS!!!!!!!!!

Bruins escape with 4-3 THRILLER over Ole Miss; Palo Alto, HERE WE COME!

May 14, 2011

I’m still in shock. Still emotionally drained. And yes, I am still absolutely speechless. I just have to say that these guys showed absolutely unbelievable heart and courage–there is really nothing else to be said. And thank you to ALL of you who came out today and supported us…in many ways, I don’t think we could have pulled this off without the crowd pulling us through.

We are all having a celebratory dinner and I’m late to go to it, so I will blog my thoughts from today’s epic match and a few for the upcoming match when I get back. For now, I’ll leave you with this video that I just uploaded–definitely captures the excitement (and relief!) that just occurred!

BRUINS WIN!!! BRUINS WIN!!!!!!

May 14, 2011

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Oh my…. Holden clinches it 7-6 in the third set. BRUINS WIN 4-3…WE ARE GOING TO PALO ALTO!!!

Just leaving the courts now–more to come later.

GO BRUINS!

UCLA dominates Binghamton 4-0 in 1st Round

May 13, 2011

 

Well, that was easy, right? Only 5 matches to go! All joking aside, it is never easy and 5 matches, truthfully, is an eternity. But for a night, we are on our way. Although we started a bit tight in doubles, we pulled through with ease at court no. 3 and no. 2 which gave us nice momentum going into singles. These 1st Round matches are never about winning, per say, but about gaining confidence and setting our mental fortitude for the battles aehad (aka tomorrow).

For a quick recap, singles was basically domination on each court. Max was first to jump on the board winning in the extremely rare double bagel scenario–6-0, 6-0. Just a giant performance out of him. Next our Captain, Amit, played well and was very aggressive throughout–he won in style with ease, too. Then it was a race to see who would clinch! Clay and Holden each were leading 5-2 and 5-1 respectively, and Holden clinched the match for us before Clay (and Daniel and Adrien) could finish their matches.

It is important that we came out and did not drop to their level, but played at ours. Truthfully, I  think we did that today; everyone in singles dominated, was aggressive, and acted like they were on a mission out there on the court. Trust me, that is how you have to look at it. Every point, every set, every match is one step closer to an NCAA Championship and nothing is going to stop us. They took it upon themselves to dominate today and I liked our performance overall.

Of course, tomorrow is a different ballgame; Ole Miss, despite being #28, are a really good team that, frankly, should be ranked higher. The stakes are raised–it’s win or go home. I’ll get into a pre-match analysis/scouting report later this evening. For the next hour or so, we are going to savor the victory and head to another team dinner. And after that, it’s all business.

My only request is COME OUT AND CHEER US ON TOMORROW! This is my final home match as a Bruin as it is for Amit and Holden, too. And again, it’s do or die against a very talented team–we need all the support we can get. Until later tonight, 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!