After three consecutive losses to national top-25 teams, the UCSB men’s tennis team finally breathed a sigh of relief after escaping with a 4-0 victory in its ITA Kickoff match against #62 Troy on Saturday.
“We’re happy because had a really tough start,” said junior Mathieu Forget, who was the first off the court against Troy in a 6-0, 6-3 win. “We played pretty well despite having three losses. We knew we were good enough to beat these guys and got the win.”
The Gauchos also faced off against #7 Florida — the regional tournament’s host — on Friday, losing 4-0 but managing to take their first doubles win of the season. Forget paired with sophomore Ben Recknagel to best the Gators at #1 doubles, 9-8 (4). Senior Alex Konigsfeldt provided UCSB with another highlight on Friday, beating #28 Sekou Bangoura 6-3, 3-1 before the match was called because Florida already had the four points necessary to win.
“Alex, since the beginning of the year, has been really impressive,” Forget said. “It’s his last year and I think he wants to do really well. If he’s playing that way, he’ll bring us a lot of wins.”
Konigsfeldt continued to play at a high level in Saturday’s consolation match, which he won 6-2, 6-3, along with the rest of the squad. Going into the day’s matches, Troy was ranked #62 in the nation, just one place behind #61 UCSB.
“We figured it was going to be very close and it was,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “We had to come from behind to win the doubles point and then we got off to a great start in singles and put them away. It was important for us psychologically to get out of town with a win.”
The victory brings the Gauchos to 1-3 on the year as they prepare for their first home match of the season against #47 University of San Diego on Feb. 5.
“[Last weekend] confirms that we are playing pretty good tennis and we needed that win because we have a monster match against San Diego,” Davis said. “It gives us a little momentum I hope and a little confidence. It was our first extended trip as a team together so it was a bonding experience as well, and I think the team chemistry is really good.”
Forget, for one, sees no lack in his team’s confidence level.
“Knowing that we can compete against schools that are top-10 or 20 in the country is something that’s going to help us out a lot,” Forget said. “They have some really good players, but if we can play consistent and focused and motivated, as we did against the other teams, I’m sure we’ll be fine.”