Credit: USA Today Sports Images
After successful seasons for both UCLA tennis teams, the Bruins found themselves among the 64 teams announced for each of the 2013 NCAA Championships.
As expected, the men were awarded the No. 1 overall seed after sweeping the Pac-12 regular season and tournament titles. The Bruins will host an NCAA Regional at the Los Angeles Tennis Center that features UM-Kansas City (13-10), Drake (24-3) and Texas Christian (18-9). Regional play begins on May 10 with the top-ranked Bruins facing UMKC in the first round.
Assuming UCLA (24-1) can get past the Kangaroos, which is pretty much a foregone conclusion, the Bruins would likely face the Bulldogs in the next round. Drake has had a very strong season, including a 17-match winning streak that stretched from January through March. However, the Bulldogs have not registered a single win against a ranked opponent this year, so they’ll have a tough task taking down UCLA.
The highest-ranked teams on the Bruins’ side of the bracket are No. 4 USC, No. 5 Ohio State, No. 8 Kentucky and No. 9 Duke. The earliest that UCLA could play any of these squads would be in the quarterfinals, where the Wildcats (20-11) or Blue Devils (22-5) could be waiting. If the Bruins make it to the semifinals, they could match up with the Trojans (23-4) for the fifth time this season. Southern Cal is the only team to beat UCLA this season, but the Bruins still own a 3-1 edge that includes the last three pairings in 2013.
This could be the first time in four seasons that the Trojans don’t claim the NCAA crown, and it just might be the year that UCLA brings national title No. 109 back to Westwood. For the complete men’s tennis bracket, follow this link.
The UCLA women have a harder path to the championship, as they are seeded No. 7 and could face second-ranked North Carolina (25-3) in the quarterfinals. But before the Bruins get another shot at the Tar Heels (lost 4-3 in February), they’ll have to get through their own NCAA Regional at LATC.
UCLA hosts Army (22-6) in the first round, and would play the winner of Oklahoma State (15-8) vs. Long Beach State (21-3) in the next round. If the Bruins successfully advance, a date with the 10th-seeded Michigan Wolverines (21-5) could be in store. And if they can beat Big Blue, the Bruins could get their chance to avenge the loss to UNC in the ITA Team Indoors championship match.
It’ll be a long road to the national title for the UCLA women, but they’ll be fired up to get out and prove to the rest of the country they belong on top. For the complete women’s tennis bracket, follow this link.