The UCSB men’s tennis team finally grabbed a victory on Saturday, defeating the #69 Oregon Ducks 4-3 in a thriller on the Ducks’ home courts. It was the first win of the season for the #60 Gauchos, and Head Coach Marty Davis could not overstate its importance.
“It was very gratifying to beat a nationally ranked team on their home courts,” Davis said. “We showed a lot of fight.”
The Gauchos had two clutch wins against Oregon, even coming within a point of defeat seven different times. Junior Josh Finkelstein found himself down 6-1 in a third set tie-breaker, but was able to convert seven straight points to win his match and put UCSB ahead 3-2 in the match overall. After an Oregon win to tie the match at 3-3, it was up to junior Phil Therp to put the Ducks away by defeating Marcos Verdasco at the #1 position.
“I think I’ve played a lot of those matches, being one of the oldest guys on the team, but that was one of the craziest ones I’ve ever played,” Therp said. “I was so tired trying to hang in there, but I got some easy points, and things just worked out.”
The following day, the team was close to winning the doubles point, but could not sustain the energy required to beat #41 New Mexico.
“We showed a lack of mental stamina against New Mexico,” coach Davis said. “Once we lost the doubles point, we were pretty sloppy in the singles matches. We had a lot of mental errors, and that’s something we need to improve on.”
Although Finkelstein and junior Scott Hohenstein were competitive in their singles matches against the Lobos, UCSB could not come up with enough firepower to snag a victory.
“You’ve got to be able to find a way to get fired up day after day,” Davis said. “We didn’t do that yesterday.”
Despite the loss against New Mexico, Therp remains pleased with getting the team’s first win.
“It was big for us just to get a win,” Therp said. “Our schedule is so tough, and starting out the season 0-5 wouldn’t have been good, especially with such a young team. So that win was really big for us, and hopefully we can use it on the rest of our road trips.”
The Gauchos will try to do just that as they head to Northern California this weekend to play Big West rival UC Davis in their first conference match of the year, as well as the #21 UC Berkeley Golden Bears.