Since its disappointing 6-1 loss to Cal Poly on March 31, the UCSB men’s tennis team has been on a tear. Following up the one-sided defeat, the Gauchos have won three straight and four of their last five matches, including a 4-3 victory over #42 Boise State on April 3, where the Broncos had not lost for two years.
“Our team took the loss to Cal Poly really hard,” junior Taylor Chavez Goggin said. “We played them on Wednesday afternoon and then had a 5 a.m. flight the next day, so we had to turn it around pretty quickly. Pulling out that match against Boise was a huge win for us. [Head Coach] Marty [Davis] said it was the best win he’s ever experienced.”
UCSB also swept #72 Oregon 7-0 at the Recreation Center Courts on April 8, marking the first time in Coach Davis’ memory that his team has swept a ranked Pac-10 opponent.
“We’ve been a little up and down this year, that’s the truth of it,” Davis said. “But we’re definitely playing better and better. We’re quite a bit better than we were at the beginning of the season.”
Still, the loss to the Mustangs has all but ensured that the Gauchos will place third in the Big West, which means that the team is unlikely to earn a bye in the first round of the Big West Tournament on April 30. The bye would have given the Gauchos one less day of tennis in the grueling Indian Wells heat and fresher legs for the final two days of the tournament. The winner of the tournament earns an NCAA tournament berth.
Cal Poly clinched the top seed in the Big West after beating the Gauchos and then UC Irvine on Saturday. For UCSB to earn the second seed, the Anteaters would need to lose to Pacific, which would give Irvine the same conference record as UCSB. Then, the second, third and fourth seeds would be determined by tiebreaker factors that Davis deemed “complicated.”
“Four teams can win the conference tournament: Cal Poly, Irvine, ourselves and Pacific,” he said. “I don’t know how serious of contenders UC Davis and UC Riverside are. The way I see it, we have a one in four chance of winning. If we play our best tennis out there, our chances are pretty good.”
This weekend, the Gauchos split matches, losing 6-1 to #27 Pepperdine and winning 4-3 at home against Loyola Marymount.
“Loyola Marymount was a good turnaround match for us,” Chavez Goggin said. “Conditions were the most miserable I’ve ever seen, but we were mentally tough and played well.”
In college tennis, the team that wins at least two of three doubles matches earns a doubles point that gets tallied in the total for the match. A win in each of the six singles matches counts as a full point for a player’s respective team.
On Sunday, the doubles teams took two out of three doubles matches, thus securing the point for the Gauchos. Freshman Benjamin Recknagel lost his second match as a starter in the top singles slot 2-6, 6-1, 7-5, but junior Alex Konigsfeldt, sophomore Mathieu Forget and senior Scott Hohenstein won their singles matches in the third, fifth and sixth slots respectively to win the match.