After dropping two more matches last weekend to Pacific and #44 Fresno State, the UCSB men’s tennis team concludes its seven-game road trip, playing UT Arlington Saturday and #61 Southern Methodist on Sunday.
This road trip has been especially unfriendly to the Gauchos, who are 1-4 over the stretch and now stand at 8-11 overall. UCSB, who lost by a score of 4-3 in both of its matches last weekend, is hoping to re-enter the national rankings and to build some momentum heading into the Big West Championships.
“We’re super familiar with the two teams,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “We’ve played them every other year. It’s an opportunity to beat a nationally-ranked team, and possibly experiment with our doubles pairs, as some adjustments need to be made.”
Picking up two wins is not totally out of the question for the Gauchos, as the team’s last two matches each came down to the final singles match.
“It’s going to be important to win both of those matches,” sophomore Benjamin Recknagel said. “Every loss on your record is bad for you to get in the rankings or bad for your confidence. We really have to win both of those matches to get the momentum going.”
If it is going to earn these much-needed wins in Texas, UCSB is going to have to work hard to win at doubles — their Achilles’ heel in the last couple matches.
“In singles we’re a really solid team,” junior Mathieu Forget said. “We can compete with anyone in our division. It’s true that we’ve been kind of weak in doubles. We lost our last two matches, and one of the reasons is that we lost at doubles. The doubles point is so important, so we need to work on that a lot and hopefully get that point back because it’s one of the most important points in the college match.”
Davis has made doubles play a point of emphasis in recent practices, hoping to find a way to take the point in their upcoming matches.
“We played a lot of doubles yesterday,” Recknagel said. “Pretty much the whole practice was just doubles, doubles situations, returns, all that kind of stuff.”
After this weekend, the Gauchos return home to play Cal Poly and Loyola Marymount on April 16 and 17, respectively. The weekend concludes Big West regular season play before the conference tournament.
“We’ve been traveling a lot. The season gets tiring,” Forget said. “It’s been hard, having to get used to different courts, dealing with the altitude in Utah and jet lag in Florida. Now that we’re coming home, we’re really excited. It’s always good to end the season with a couple wins at home and boost our confidence before the tournament.”