Competing in their final fall season tournament, the UCSB men’s tennis team won the Gaucho Classic tournament at Santa Barbara this past weekend, overcoming the tough competition and rain delays.
Facing UCSD, LMU and Westmont, the Gaucho squad put forth a great effort to win four of the five groupings.
“We had an outstanding tournament,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “Our young guys were terrific; it was their first chance to play at home. Everybody performed extraordinarily well and we’re seeing some improvement in our double’s play, which is still an area of emphasis.”
Forced to postpone concluding singles matches to Monday due to rain delays on Saturday, UCSB swept Flight A, B and C singles competition, as all six finalists were Gauchos. Junior Mbonisi Ndimande defeated freshman teammate Axel Bouillin 6-4, 6-4 to claim the Flight A title for the Gauchos.
“There was high pressure on that,” Ndimande said. “He’s a good player too, so I knew it was going to be tough going through him. I knew it was going to be a tough match. I’m glad I pulled it off — it was a good win for me.”
Flight B singles featured junior Alex Johnson and freshman Ziad Sultan, with Johnson emerging victorious 6-3, 6-4. Flight C finals showcased two more Gauchos in junior Max Glenn’s 7-6, 7-5 defeat over freshman Mons Knudtzon to give UCSB a clean sweep in all three singles flights.
“It feels really great; I played well all the way until the finals,” Johnson said. “I played a teammate in the finals who I felt like was considered very evenly matched to me and it felt good to come out on top.”
While UCSB was unable to sweep doubles play, the Gauchos still showed they were clearly the superior team this weekend.
Winning Flight B doubles for UCSB were teammates Knudtzon and Sultan, defeating fellow Gauchos Glenn and sophomore Alexander Gryaznov by a score of 8-2.
Overall, UCSB overpowered the field, winning nine of 12 matches in doubles play and 13 of 14 in singles competition against the three opposing schools.
“It definitely boosts our confidence and it’s definitely a good way to end the fall season,” Johnson said. “After this tournament we don’t have any more official practice until spring season in January.”
As the fall season ends, the Gauchos’ spring lineup still lays in the balance, with their first game scheduled for Jan. 13 in Honolulu, Hawaii. With several spots yet to be determined, the Gaucho Classic proved to be the perfect environment to see UCSB players compete against each other in real game situations.
“It was very intense out there because we have 10 guys on the team and only eight make the travel team,” Davis said. Of those eight members who will make the trip, only six will play in the three matches.
“These matches today and a couple challenge matches to be played this week are hugely important in determining who’s going to be on the travel team,” Davis said. “Today was not a friendly environment out there — it was very intense.”
UCSB will take a break in action until it travels to Hawaii for a three-day tour from Jan. 13 to 15.