In its first action since Spring Break, the No. 53 UCSB men’s tennis team will host Loyola Marymount this afternoon in what will be the squad’s last home match of the season. The Gauchos are 11-7 overall and 8-2 at home, while LMU is 8-10 overall and 2-5 on the road.
Today also marks the final home match for the only senior on the team, Mathieu Forget, who will play at the No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles court. Forget was named Big West Athlete of the Week on April 5 for the third time this season, in part for his play in Santa Barbara’s 7-0 win over Pacific on April 1.
“It’s our last home game and it’s Senior Day, so I hope to get another win at the courts before I say bye,” Forget said. “We just want to see if we can improve after a week of practicing really hard and hit the ball well … We’re looking forward to seeing where we are.”
LMU has had its share of success against the Big West this season with wins over Pacific, UC Davis and UC Riverside in February before losing to UC Irvine 4-3 in its last match on April 5. The Gauchos have beat all of those teams this season with the exception of Riverside, who they will face next weekend in their last Big West game. Meanwhile, UCSB is 1-1 against the West Coast Conference, beating Gonzaga but losing to Santa Clara, who also beat LMU.
Despite playing in different conferences, both teams are familiar with each other, having already played in the UCSB Classic preseason tournament in November, where Santa Barbara went a combined 13-1 in singles play against LMU, UC San Diego and Westmont. The Gauchos have also faced the Lions in the regular season each of the last four years, with Santa Barbara winning each meeting.
“We play them every year and we haven’t lost to them [since I’ve been here],” Forget said. “They have a pretty solid team though, and we’re gonna have to be ready. If we play good tennis, we’ll be fine.”
UCSB should also like its chances today, as it has not lost to an unranked team all year. And while a win will not help its standing in the Big West, everyone left on the schedule is a chance to rise in the rankings. A top-40 finish will guarantee a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
“We have one more opportunity to play a ranked team — SDSU — and once we get into the Big West tournament, Cal Poly is probably going to be top team,” Forget said. “To win the Big West is really one of the things we’re aiming for and we definitely have a shot at the top 40 if we win out.”
First serve is 1:30 p.m. at the Rec Cen courts.