©Colette Lewis 2013--
With their clinical 4-0 victory over No. 16 seed Vanderbilt Thursday night, top seed UCLA looked every bit the part of tournament favorite. And although he was pleased with the play of his team, head coach Billy Martin sees Virginia as the rightful owner of that designation.
"Quite honestly I think they deserved to be seeded No. 1," said Martin. "They're undefeated, they won the National Indoors, which is the only tournament we've all been to. So I wouldn't necessarily have argued for us to be the No. 1 seed. The powers that be did it, but in my opinion, they're the team to beat."
Taking the court around sunset, the Bruins were facing a Vanderbilt team which much less experience at the collegiate majors. UCLA won the doubles point and took all six first sets in singles, so any drama faded with the last of the daylight.
Clay Thompson earned the second Bruins point with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Marc van der Merwe at line 5, and Adrien Puget made it 3-0 UCLA with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Jeff Offerdahl at line 3. UCLA's Karue Sell was up 6-4, 5-1 against Rhys Johnson at line 6, but he was broken and Johnson held to give the Commodores top two players a chance to make an impression in their matches. Ryan Lipman won the second set from Dennis Novikov at No. 1, and AJ Austin was toe-to-toe with Marcos Giron at No. 2 as Johnson fought off four match points before finally succumbing 6-4, 6-3.
"I'm always worried, because the first one at the final site, everyone's always nervous," said Martin. "That's the good thing about having some guys who have been through this before. Everybody but Karue has been through this before and that always helps. We got off to a good start in doubles, with 3 leading us there, and then at 1, so it wasn't so intense right from the start. And then we got off to a good start also in singles, so all in all I'm really happy to get through this first one."
With their quarterfinal opponent, the winner of the Kentucky - Duke match, barely starting their singles when UCLA finished, Martin could only be pleased with that scenario.
"They're probably going to go until 1 o'clock," said Martin, who then joked, "Let them go to until 3 in the morning. But anyhow, they've got a day to rest, so we'll have a barnburner against either one on Saturday."
No. 1 UCLA 4, No. 16 Vanderbilt 0
7 p.m. CT – South Courts
1. #27 Dennis Novikov (UCLA) vs. #10 Ryan Lipman (VAN) 6-3, 3-6*
2. #25 Marcos Giron (UCLA) vs. #48 Gonzales Austin (VAN) 6-1, 6-5*
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*
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
1. #42 Giron/Novikov (UCLA) def. #38 Lipman/Austin (VAN) 8-4
2. #77 Puget/Sell (UCLA) vs. van der Merwe/Johnson (VAN) 5-5*
3. Brigham/Thompson (UCLA) def. Offerdahl/Eswaran (VAN) 8-0
Order of Finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (5,3,6)
* = unfinished