NCAA Round of 16 PREVIEW: #12 UCLA vs. #5 Baylor

Posted May 18, 2011 by uclatennis
Categories: Match Pre-game

It’s here, it’s finally here–the match we have been anticipating all week (and in essence) all year is tomorrow. It is hard to put in words what this means. We work all year hoping to make it to the Round of 16 for a chance at a championships. All those long hours on the court, in the waitroom, in the tutoring classroom, in the training room, in Coach’s office…we do it all for tomorrow and hopefully for a few more days after.

For me personally, and our seniors Holden and Amit, this is it–as they say! Our final chance for glory, redemption, and jubilation. Our final chance at an NCAA Championship. It all starts tomorrow. We have the Bruin faithful coming down to cheer us on in this quest and I am just so ecstatic that each and every one of you are coming up to Palo Alto; it means the world to me and of course, it means the world to the team. The Bruins mean business and here we come!

But, as dramatic as I make it out to be, Coach stressed in our nightly meeting that it is “still just tennis.” And he’s right–it’s still a match between two teams. Our opponent, appropriately enough, is the Baylor Bears; above all teams, we have had more recent history with them than any other. So here’s my scouting report on a team that we know well (and who know us well), too.

OPPONENT: #5 seeded Baylor Bears

CONFERENCE/RECORD: Big 12 Conference, 21-4 (6-0)

HEAD-TO-HEAD: UCLA is 3-6 all-time versus Baylor–one of the few times that the Bruins have an all0time losing record to. Our history with Baylor is intense and vivid as for whatever reasons, these two teams always seem to have the most epic matches. As it was written at UCLABruins.com:

“Whenever UCLA and Baylor square off in men’s tennis it’s guaranteed to be an exciting battle. The two teams have met nine times, with the last seven meetings decided by 4-3 scores.”

Date Winner Score Site
Feb. 6, 2011	UCLA	4-3	Waco
March 11, 2010	Baylor	4-3	Los Angeles
Feb. 22, 2009	Baylor	4-3	Waco
March 10, 2008	UCLA	4-3	Los Angeles
Feb. 10, 2007	Baylor	4-3	Waco
March 11, 2006	Baylor	4-3	Los Angeles
May 24, 2005	UCLA	4-3	College Station
May 25, 2004	Baylor	4-0	Tulsa
Feb. 26, 2004	Baylor	5-2	Los Angeles
As you can see, the matches always seem to come down to the final match at 3-all. In addition, we also have a special place in each other's recent history as Baylor defeated UCLA 4-0 in the finals of the NCAA Championships to win their first-ever NCAA title (in any sport) while a year later, we defeated then 4-3 for UCLA (and Coach Martin's first) first NCAA Championship in tennis since 1984. 

Most recently, we defeated Baylor 4-3 behind Clay Thompson's epic 3rd set match at Waco, TX, so we have confidence riding since we have beaten them once already. For a recap of that match, you can go HERE. Therefore, this match is a re-match of our early season clash, which again, was one of the most exciting--and closest--matches of the season.

KEY WINS: Win vs. Tennessee 4-3; Win vs. Stanford 5-2; Win at Texas 4-3; Win vs. Oklahoma 4-3

SCOUTING REPORT: Well, honestly, we know what to expect–we know their players quite well (and they know ours of course, too). They have an experienced lineup with three seniors to have been through these pressure-packed matches before and have undoubtedly gotten much better since when we beat them. Shortly after their loss to us, the dropped to #31 in the rankings! Obviously, we know how great of a team they are and that that ranking was absolutely ridiculous but it goes to show you that they finished the season so well and became a very high #5 seed behind the big wins I listed above. They are talented and capable of playing at a high level as evidenced by their results and high seed. In addition, they have changed pretty much their entire lineup compared to when we played them.

The Bears have five nationally ranked singles players and are led by #19th-ranked Senior John Peers, who has compiled an impressive 17-5 record this year in dual matches. After Peers, the  no. 2 player is Senior Sergio Ramirez, ranked 68th nationally and  13-9 in dual matches this year. Both Ramirez and Peers have experience and will look to start hot against us as they both won their matches when we played in Waco months ago. The other nationally ranked players are #97 Keke Grangeiro, #98 Dennis Lengsfeld, and #102 Roberto Maytin.

PREDICTION/COMMENTS: It’s the NCAA folks–it’s about who comes to play, who wants it more, and who is focused when it is all said and done. Baylor is a great team who we have had history with this year and in years past. And remember, they are the #5 seed for a reason and have put up some amazing results. No doubt they are going to be tough to beat….everyone is from here on out. But because of that, they are expected to win and have the pressure–not us and I think this is to our advantage, especially since we beat them early in the year. Granted, they are an entirely different team and we know it is going to take a great effort to beat these guys, but of course we know we can do so because we have done it before. I think doubles will be key because both teams have struggled in that aspect all year, so there is a lot to be said about who can jump out first–especially at NCAA’s. I can almost guarantee one thing though–no matter who wins, it will probably come down to the wire because it always does when the Bruins and Bears face off!

Anyway, I’m so excited to see many of you tomorrow for the match. And for those who cannot make it, you are with us in spirit! You can follow through Stanford’s LIVE Video and LIVE stats feed HERE. Of course, I’ll be blogging the best I can and Twitter-ing as well. It’s going to be tough to beat Baylor twice in one year, but we look forward to the challenge. LET’S GO BRUINS!!!!! IT’S GAME TIME!!!!!!!

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NCAA Banquet pictures

Posted May 18, 2011 by uclatennis
Categories: "On the Road" Update

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As promised, here are a few pictures of and from the banquet. Great night of food and luxury!

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Bruins finish their hit and relaxing before NCAA banquet

Posted May 18, 2011 by uclatennis
Categories: "On the Road" Update, Practice Updates

To follow up where I left off, we were able to hit at the Stanford courts where we will play tomorrow and there was definitely some good tennis that was being played. Seriously, everything really looks loose and there were a lot of smiles on the court. You always want to go into the night before the match knowing you prepared well and feeling well, and I feel confident that each of us feel that way. No new is good news, right? We went about our business today and have a few hours to relax before the NCAA team banquet tonight at 7:15pm with all 16 men’s and women’s team. It’s always a lot of fun seeing everyone dressed up and looking all spiffy–even hard to recognize some people!

Anyway, I’ll definitely blog tonight from the banquet and put up some pictures as it is always an exciting evening and fun to really feel the NCAA atmosphere. And later this evening when I get back, I’ll do a match preview on Baylor, too. GO BRUINS! 🙂

Good morning from Palo Alto!

Posted May 18, 2011 by uclatennis
Categories: "On the Road" Update

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It’s the concluding day of practice before the Bruins and Bears go to battle at the Taube tennis center! We had a nice morning breakfast at the hotel as we will get a hit today at the site where we are going to play tomorrow, I believe.

Just checking in–GO BRUINS!

Oh, what a night of food and fun for this band of Bruins!

Posted May 18, 2011 by uclatennis
Categories: "On the Road" Update

Good evening everyone! Many of you will be reading this tomorrow morning, as late-night shopping and meetings with Coach delayed this evening’s blogging extravaganza (I wish!). In all honestly, not much to report except to share our amazing experience at our “host” family tonight; the tournament organizes families to have all the teams over for dinner a night before the tournament starts and tonight was our night. This being my 4th NCAA, appropriately, this is my 4th “host family” dinner…and wow, was it amazing!

First, we found our way to this absolutely beautiful suburban style house fit for kings (and queens)! Immediately, we were showered with warmth, appetizers, and plenty of sports competition by the way of basketball shootouts and table tennis. Not to mention HD offering of the Thunder-Mavs Game 1. Anyway, we had a stunning dinner table all set for us and the food, well, was just out of this world–so to speak. We had our own little Salad bar to start, then followed by filet mignon’s and chicken–freshly grilled–with pasta, mashed potatoes, white bean salad, and some grilled veggies. It was unbelievable, truthfully, and just don’t know how to describe such a meal that they put on for us! And of course, a “make our own” sundae/ice cream bar just for us.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun and a delicious meal. We thank our host family so very much and look forward to seeing them in some blue and gold on Thursday! As for tomorrow, Bruins going to get some sleep, get breakfast at the hotel, and then focus on on day-before hit. Things are still pretty loose right now in terms of our demeanor and attitude as we are going to try and keep it that way tomorrow before the match. We are underdogs and have no pressure going on.

Anyway, until tomorrow, GO BRUINS!

Weather holds out–Bruins get second hit!

Posted May 17, 2011 by uclatennis
Categories: "On the Road" Update, Practice Updates

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Well, that was lucky! Despite a 70% chance of rain, it’s actually really nice out with a hint of sun here or there. Anyway, the guys are hitting at the alternate courts as our opponent Baylor is right next to us–gotta’ love NCAA’S!

But other than our hit, not much to report–just preparing and easing our way into the week.

GO BRUINS! (Oh and thanks for the comments everyone–I love reading them!)

A morning (quick) rainy hit

Posted May 17, 2011 by uclatennis
Categories: "On the Road" Update, Practice Updates

Well, our scheduled hit was this morning and the guys are currently hitting and finishing up as it is drizzling here–not enough for the guys to stop but enough for them to be really, really careful.

Our second hit is at 3-5pm but the forecast only looks worse. Mother Nature, as they say, is intervening in an unfriendly way.

I’ll keep you updated–GO BRUINS!

P.S. I’ve started uploading videos on the YouTube channel again (I had some tech trouble that is now resolved), so check that as well.