This past weekend the Tritons traveled to UC Irvine for a casual club tennis tournament. Even though the large tournaments (Arizona Spring Invitationals and the National Championships) are long gone away, we were lucky to have another event where we could play matches and wind down the season before the end of the school year. UCSD took two teams to the event but from the get-go were with a clear disadvantage, as each team only had two girls, eliminating the idea of substitutions. The following is an account of each day and what it entailed.
Saturday, April 29 – Round robin
12 Socal teams signed up for this tournament. Unlike other larger tournaments, where they had separate day 2 brackets based on your performance in the round robin phase, this tournament only had one bracket, and the round robin results only determined seeding. Thus, our teams went in without much pressure and went in just to play. Day 1 had an abbreviated format where we played to 4 games instead of the usual 6.
A team faced off against UC Riverside B to start off. Right away, we got off to good starts; Colleen Mellinger and Qing Wen, and Alexander Loh and Ryan Lee, who played women’s and men’s doubles, respectively, won 4-0. The momentum continued as Erik Wu and Wen posted 4-0 victories in men’s and women’s singles. The mixed doubles duo of Mellinger and Loh won 4-0, so our first round was a solid victory. In the second round, we faced UC Irvine’s B team; Irvine is always a tough opponent with a deep roster of solid players. We split women’s and men’s doubles 4-2 and 2-4, respectively. Mellinger showed great resilience to win her singles match 4-3; she was down 0-3 and came all the way back to win. Wu fell 2-4 in his singles match to a very steady opponent. Loh and Wen won mixed doubles 4-3, but the match was not over; the match was sent to a super tiebreaker. In the super tiebreaker, it came down to a sudden death point. Loh and Wen were able to win it when the Irvine player’s return hit the net, to win the tiebreaker with a 7-6 score. Talk about too close for comfort. Our third match of the day was against CSU Fullerton. Wen and Mellinger won 4-1 in women’s doubles and Lee and Loh won 4-3 in men’s. In singles, Wen and Wu got decisive 4-0 victories to give us a commanding lead going into mixed. Mellinger and Lee finished the job with a 4-0 lead. Undefeated on Day 1, we ended up securing the #2 seed for the bracket for day 2.
B team faced off against UC Irvine’s A team for their first match. We knew it was going to be a very tough match; Renee Walton and Celyne Moh lost women’s doubles 1-4 and tournament first-timers Ryosuke Tada and Ken Nakamine lost men’s doubles 2-4. Our fortunes would not turn around in singles, and Walton and Kshitij Gaur would fall 1-4 and 0-4, respectively. Going into mixed, we had Charlie Tamer and Moh. Although they played a spirited set, they lost 2-4 to Irvine. B team’s second match was against UCSB-A, another strong Socal team. Moh and Walton lost 1-4, while Tada and Nakamine equalized with a 4-1 win in men’s doubles. This time, Moh and Tamer played women’s and men’s singles, respectively. They played well but lost 1-4 and 2-4. Going into mixed, our deficit was 5 games, hard to overcome with the abbreviated 4-game set. Gaur and Walton got the match to a tiebreaker, but unfortunately lost 3-4. B team’s third match was against UCLA’s B team, yet another formidable opponent. Moh and Walton lost 2-4, Nakamine and Tada lost 0-4. Going back to the original lineup, Walton and Gaur lost in singles 1-4 and 0-4, and Moh and Tamer lost 1-4 in mixed doubles. It was a tall task as B team’s pool was full of tough teams.
Sunday, April 30 – Bracket round
In the bracket round, we were back to playing full sets. In the first round, our B team faced off against UCSB’s A team, a rematch of Day 1’s second match. Our B team came out to play on the second day. We traded off women’s doubles (Walton and Moh) and men’s doubles (Nakamine and Tamer) 2-6 and 6-2. Walton got a solid win at women’s singles, 6-3, and so did Tada with his steady play. It came down to mixed doubles, which Gaur and Moh lost 2-6. However, we still had a 2 game advantage going into overtime. Tamer was put in to play with Moh, and they were able to close out overtime by winning the first game. UCSD’s B team was on to the quarterfinals! In the quarterfinals, they played Irvine’s B team, yet another rematch of day 1. Doubles traded off again, but this time it was women’s doubles (Walton and Moh) that logged a 6-4 win while Gaur and Nakamine fell 4-6. B team had a tough time in singles as they went up against really tough opponents. Moh lost 0-6 and while Tada fought hard, he lost 2-6. It came down to mixed doubles. Irvine showed their depth and Tamer and Walton lost 3-6, ending B team’s tournament run. B team can be happy with their run especially with the way they bounced back and played on Day 2.
A team’s first round was against a new opponent, UC Riverside A. As Lee wanted to play singles instead, the lineup was changed; Loh and Wu played men’s doubles, even though Wu’s style was much more suited to singles. Regardless, they won 6-2 and Wen and Mellinger won 6-1 to give us a solid lead going into singles. Wen won singles 6-4; her opponent was clawing back but Wen was able to close it out. Lee played an overall very solid match to win 6-1. We had a commanding lead going into mixed doubles. Wu and Mellinger won 6-2 to give A team an overall score of 30-10. As we had a first round bye, we were in the semifinals. In the semifinals we rematched against UCI’s B team. We went with our normal lineup this time with Wen and Mellinger at women’s doubles and Lee and Loh in men’s. Both duos won 6-0 to give us the best start possible. In singles, Mellinger played a solid match but ended up losing 4-6. Wu’s opponent came out to a really fast start, but Wu hung in there and tried to get as many games as possible. He ended up losing on the sudden death point in the tiebreaker. However, our lead was 9 games going into mixed doubles. Lee and Wen clinched the victory with a 6-3 win. We were in the finals!
In the finals, we played against UC Irvine’s A team, which was a much-anticipated matchup as we knew Irvine A made it all the way to the finals at Nationals. Wen and Mellinger lost a very close match, 4-6. Lee and Loh came to play and beat a very formidable UC Irvine men’s doubles team with a very impressive score of 6-1. Mellinger played a very solid opponent in women’s singles who rarely missed a shot, and she lost 1-6. Wu played a very tough opponent who actually won his singles match at Nationals against Michigan, so he knew he was in for a challenge. The match was really back and forth, with Wu getting off to a fast start, 3-1, but eventually his opponent clawed his way back to 4-4. The match would eventually go into a tiebreaker with a few very intense points. Eventually Wu was able to serve it out for a 6-5 victory (5-3 in the tiebreaker). This result meant we were only down 1 game going into mixed doubles. Lee and Wen raced out to a 4-0 lead, but the Irvine mixed team never gave up, and got back to a tense 4-4 tie. At this point it was very nerve wracking, but Lee and Wen ended up playing solid points to win 6-4, making the overall score 23-22, and UCSD’s A team won the tournament!
It was nice to have another chance to play matches even after Nationals and Spring Invitationals were over and for A team to get some nice wins. This was the final tournament for some as we have some seniors graduating (Tamer, Walton, Moh) and Wu having played 6 total years of club tennis. Being able to go out with a win but also with a casual atmosphere at this tournament was an ideal send-off.
A team: Alexander Loh, Erik Wu, Ryan Lee, Colleen Mellinger, Qing Wen
B team: Charlie Tamer, Ken Nakamine, Kshitij Gaur, Ryosuke Tada, Celyne Moh, Renee Walton
Captains: Alexander Loh, Erik Wu
Safety Officer: Alexander Loh
Coach: Justin Yang