The UCSB men’s tennis team will face its toughest challenge of the year when it travels to No. 3 UCLA today.
“No fear,” Head Coach Marty Davis said about what he stressed this week in practice. “On paper they’re the best team we’ll play this season, but we’ve got a shot against anybody if we just believe.”
While UCSB is the clear underdog in this match, UCSB still has strong reason to believe that they can win. Last season, the Gauchos upset No. 22 Texas Tech 4-3 in what was their biggest win of the year.
“The win against Texas Tech last year really shows us that we’re able to compete against a top team in the country,” sophomore Greg Scott said. “We’re just going to take that with us, and we’re pretty confident that we are going to give them a run for their money at least.”
The Gauchos started off the dual match portion of the year strong with a 7-0 sweep against Westmont last week, but they know very well the kind of monster that they’re dealing with against UCLA.
“There’s no question everyone needs to step up a little extra, more than most matches we play this year,” Scott said. “The main thing is going to be mental. Are we confident enough to beat them? And if we are, then it’s definitely going to be a great match.”
While Davis usually pushes his players to their limits in practice to ensure that he has one of the most fit teams in the nation, the preparation for this week’s match has yielded a much lighter workload for the team.
“Fitness has never been an issuer for us,” Scott said. “The practices last week were really tough so we’ve been taking it easy resting the bodies, making sure no injuries come into play for tomorrow. Just a lot of mental preparation and getting pumped up.”
In a warm Los Angeles climate, and being on the road against a much tougher opponent than they faced last week, UCSB will surely be looking to utilize one of their greatest advantages on the court in their excellent conditioning.
The match will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.
A version of this article appeared on page 9 of January 23rd, 2013′s print edition of the Nexus.