Tuesday, May 30

Men’s tennis defeats Texas A&M, advances to NCAA quarterfinal


Sophomore Maxime Cressy had four match points on Texas A&M's Valentin Vacherot's serve Thursday, but couldnt convert on any of them. Cressy eventually served out his match, winning 6-4, 6-3, to put UCLA into the NCAA quarterfinals. (Emma Skinner/Daily Bruin)

Sophomore Maxime Cressy had four match points on Texas A&M's Valentin Vacherot's serve Thursday, but couldnt convert on any of them. Cressy eventually served out his match, winning 6-4, 6-3, to put UCLA into the NCAA quarterfinals. (Emma Skinner/Daily Bruin)


ATHENS, Georgia — Maxime Cressy had five chances to close out his match against Texas A&M’s Valentin Vacherot.

He needed all of them.

The sophomore’s first four match points all came on Vacherot’s serve, but the Aggie freshman denied him each time, behind a flurry of service winners and forehand winners.

On Cressy’s next match point, he made sure Vacherot wouldn’t save another.

The Bruin crushed a serve his opponent returned well wide, and his teammates mobbed him as No. 5 UCLA men’s tennis (22-5) defeated No. 13 Texas A&M (21-7) 4-1 Thursday afternoon.

In UCLA’s previous two matches, only one singles point came from the bottom three courts, but against Texas A&M, two of their three points came courtesy of Cressy and senior Joe Di Giulio at courts four and six.

The 6-foot-7-inch Cressy frequently served and volleyed, and he said his game plan focused on varying his approaches and lobs to make Vacherot uncomfortable with a tall player constantly at the net.

“I tried to chip and charge a lot – chip sometimes low, very short, or long,” Cressy said. “He doesn’t like moving forward that much when the ball’s at his feet. I also returned very well – I had a great percentage of my returns which enabled me to break a lot.”

Before Cressy’s heroics, Di Giulio won his first match at No. 6 singles this season, 7-5, 6-1 over Texas A&M’s Aleksandre Bakshi.

The senior had multiple set points up 5-2 in the first set, but Bakshi came back to tie it.

That was when Di Giulio said he mentally refocused and pulled away for the victory.

I could’ve won the first set a lot easier. He saved a few set points, got it back to 5-all and I kind of had to reset,” Di Giulio said. “I told myself I’m going to restart from here and I’m going to play my game. From that point on I played my style of tennis and cruised from there.”

The Bruins started off strong in doubles, as Di Giulio and junior Austin Rapp won 6-1 at court two.

Cressy and freshman Ben Goldberg then lost their match 6-4, leaving freshman Evan Zhu and junior Martin Redlicki as the last hope to clinch the doubles point.

Up 6-5 and on the no-ad point, Redlicki rocketed a return that Texas A&M’s Arthur Rinderknech volleyed past the baseline, giving UCLA the early lead.

“(Di Giulio and Rapp) really led us, winning and getting us on the board. But that’s a team at No. 1 doubles that’s really been so strong for us the whole year, winning big matches, and I think they’ve only lost a couple matches all year,” said coach Billy Martin. “I guess just from a coaching standpoint, to have them playing the last match here at this big venue, big tournament, is what you want.”

Zhu then claimed UCLA’s first singles point with a 6-4, 6-3 win over the No. 48-ranked Jordi Arconada. After playing at No. 3 singles the entire season, Zhu now has two consecutive wins at No. 2 singles.

The Bruins will now face host No. 12 Georgia on Saturday in the quarterfinals, after the Bulldogs rallied from a 3-2 deficit to defeat No. 4 USC 4-3. UCLA has defeated Georgia three times in the past two seasons, with two wins coming at the Pac-12/SEC Showdown and one at last year’s ITA National Indoor Championship.

 

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