The No. 40 Oregon men’s tennis team dropped its Pac-12 opener Friday, losing to the No. 4 UCLA Bruins 4-1.
This marks the first loss at home for the Ducks this season and the team’s third straight loss.
Starting things off, the No. 21 doubles pair of Cormac Clissold and Thomas Laurent defeated the No. 24 pair of Keegan Smith and Austin Rapp 6-4 to give the Ducks the advantage in doubles play.
“[Laurent] and I know we can beat basically anybody in the country if we play well,” Clissold said. “So we just went out there relaxed.”
A battle ensued on the other two courts, with both Charles Roberts and Armando Soemarno’s match against Martin Redlicki and Evan Zhu, as well as Simon Stevens and Ty Gentry’s match against Bryce Pereira and Maxime Cressy going to a tie-breaker.
Both Bruins’ pairs fought off their Oregon counterparts, winning both tie-breakers and taking doubles point for UCLA.
“Some are going to go your way and some are not,” Oregon head coach Nils Schyllander said. “We just needed to keep the same fight going through singles we showed in doubles and I thought for the most part, we did.”
Singles play started off very back-and-forth on all six courts.
With four UCLA players ranked inside the top-125 in the ITA rankings, the Ducks put pressure on the favored Bruins and tested them.
Smith, the No. 58 singles player extended UCLA’s lead to two after defeating Akihiro Tanaka 6-3, 6-4. Cressy then put the Bruins one victory away from the match win when he defeated Gentry 6-4, 6-3. The loss also ended Gentry’s 11-match win streak.
Clissold put the Ducks back in the match with a win over No. 62 Logan Staggs 6-4 in straight sets.
“I went out there and played my game and played well against a guy who has proven himself in a lot of matches this year,” Clissold said. “I just went out there relaxed and trusted the practice I have put in and got the job done I guess.”
Despite focusing more on other courts, Schyllander was definitely aware of Clissold’s success.
“I was on the other side, I didn’t see him, but I know when he is playing well, I hear him,” Schyllander said. “It seemed like he was very dialed in.”
Martin Redlicki, the No. 3 ranked singles players in the country, closed out the victory for the Bruins over No. 13 Laurent in a match that was filled with friendly banter between the two.
This left freshman Riki Oshima’s match unfinished with him leading 6-3, 4-5. Oshima showed a lot more energy than usual, thanks to a change in approach.
“We talked a lot about his energy out of the blocks,” Schyllander said. “I think he has taken that to heart. He started off really dominant. From point one, I think he was locked in.”
The Ducks will return to action Saturday at 1 p.m. against No. 13 USC. It will be Oregon’s fourth match against a top-5o opponent in the Ducks’ last five matches.
“We just need to keep playing well,” Schyllander said. “That [UCLA] is a national championship contender we played and we played them tough. We just got to keep plugging away and worry about what we’re doing and we’ve got to knock off some of the really good teams, that’s for sure.”
Follow Maverick Pallack on Twitter @mavpallack