Zoe Moskowitz, Daily Bruin contributor
The Bruins will celebrate Senior Day with a match against their crosstown rivals.
UCLA men’s tennis (7-9, 2-2 Pac-12) will host No. 15 USC (15-5, 5-1) on Saturday at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. The match will mark the last conference matchup at home this season and will also be the team’s senior day in honor of their graduating seniors.
Coming off a trip to the Pacific Northwest where they lost to Washington 5-1 but beat Oregon 4-1, the Bruins will have the opportunity to have a winning record in Pac-12 play with a victory over the Trojans ahead of the Pac-12 Championships starting April 20.
Coach Billy Martin said he hopes home-court advantage and an underdog mentality will help his team play under less pressure.
“They’re obviously a very good team, but we’re playing at our house – which is always an advantage for us,” Martin said. “I don’t think a lot of people are expecting us to win the match quite honestly. That allows us, the underdogs, to come out there and play a little looser.”
When the Bruins traveled to USC in March, they were defeated 4-0. With junior Drew Baird likely unavailable because of injury, UCLA’s lineup Saturday will potentially look different than when the two teams first matched up. In place of Baird, No. 23 freshman Alexander Hoogmartens will likely play on court one and face USC’s No. 2 Stefan Dostanic.
“It’s going to be exciting.” Martin said. “I always say, ‘If you can’t get up for a home USC match, then somethings wrong with you.’”
Ethan Ng, Daily Bruin contributor
The Bruins will have the opportunity to regain their place in the national rankings over the weekend.
UCLA rowing (0-1) will travel to Las Vegas to compete in the Pac-12 Invitational on Saturday and Sunday to face off against some of the highest-ranked programs in the nation.
The invitational will feature seven conference teams as well as five other schools.
Two weeks ago, the Bruins – who were previously ranked No. 16 – traveled to San Diego to compete in the San Diego Crew Classic and faced off against highly-ranked competition such as No. 1 Texas and then-No. 9 California. At the classic, the novice varsity eight recorded their best finish in program history, earning second place with a time of 7:23.787.
Interim coach Previn Chandraratna said the Bruins will have specific goals in mind for the weekend and moving into the rest of the season.
“The most important thing for this weekend is to learn to execute in the second half of the race,” Chandraratna said. “Early in the season we concentrated on getting off the line and getting into a good rhythm, but now it’s time to learn to compete all the way to the end.”
UCLA will take on No. 18 Alabama, No. 3 California and No. 19 Oregon State in its races Saturday and will then face Alabama, No. 5 Stanford, Clemson and Iowa on Sunday.
Chandraratna said maintaining performance over ranked teams will be another area of focus for the weekend.
“We’ve established that we can compete with the top-10 teams like USC when we defeated them in our dual race, but we need to show some consistency as we hit the second half of the season,” Chandraratna said.
Track and Field
Caleb Freeman Sacker, Daily Bruin contributor
The Bruins will hit the road for their third meet in two weeks.
UCLA track and field will return to action Friday and Saturday for the Triton Invitational, a two-day meet in San Diego. The team’s most recent meets in Fresno and Stanford – which took place on April 1 and 2, respectively – continued the season-long trend of Bruin athletes acquiring personal records and milestones.
Personal best times in the 400-meter from junior sprinters Cameron Reynolds and Maddy Doane, along with senior Gwyn George nearly cracking the top-10 all-time for the 1500-meter, were a few of the performances from the previous weekend. On the field side, sophomore thrower Aidan Elbettar placed himself 10th in the country for the discus while freshman thrower Kris Emig’s showing in the hammer throw put him fourth all-time in the UCLA record books.
Coach Avery Anderson said he is proud of his squad for their recent performances, but the Bruins have to keep their sights aimed at the ultimate objective.
“(We need to) keep getting better and look to perform toward the postseason,” Anderson said. “The marks we have put up are big in the context of school history and personal bests, but we really want those significant performances to be happening when it counts the most.”
Anderson added that this part of the season is where every little thing can determine who will become a champion.
“(We) are in the middle part of the steps on the stairs, (and we have to) keep planning on training better and better” Anderson said. “So many things go into this sport – you have to be specific on what you are doing, especially in the month of April.”
The Triton Invitational will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Friday at Triton Track and Field Stadium.
Lauren Kim, Daily Bruin contributor
The Bruins will face their penultimate opponent before the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament.
No. 1 UCLA men’s volleyball (17-3, 7-1 MPSF) will take on No. 8 Pepperdine (14-7, 5-3) at the Firestone Fieldhouse on Thursday evening before playing its last home game of the regular season at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday night.
The Bruins have seven full practices left before the MPSF tournament is set to start. Coach John Speraw said that with two weeks remaining, UCLA will not be able to change its style of play very much, but the team will be working to tune its skills as it heads into the playoffs.
“As we look towards the next couple of weeks, there’s always room for improvement,” said Speraw. “But at this point, we won’t be making significant systematic changes – just refinement of what we put in place.”
Last season, Pepperdine defeated UCLA in two of the three matches played between the two teams. This year, the Bruins are currently on a five-contest winning streak and lead the MPSF with seven conference victories this season.
Speraw said the Bruins will have to find different ways to utilize their game plan against the Waves, as their strategy varies markedly from the Trojans – UCLA’s opponent from last week.
“They will present a significant challenge in a significantly different type of style of play than what we saw last week versus ‘SC,” Speraw said. “I think it’ll present some stress and challenge for us, which I think is what we need in order for us to be at our best at the end of the year.”