Sports / Tennis

Gauchos Face No. 2 USC, Fresno State

It was a disappointing trip to Hawaii for the UCSB men’s tennis team as the Gauchos lost to Hawaii Pacific on Saturday 6-1 and then saw the rain cancel their first conference match of the season against Hawaii University. This leaves the Gauchos’ record at 2-4. Santa Barbara now looks towards this upcoming weekend with matches away at No. 2 University of Southern California on Friday and at home against Fresno State on Sunday.

The only positive from this weekend was the play of junior Tobias Galskov. Ranked No. 108 in the country, Galskov won his fourth dual match of the season with a victory over sophomore Jaume Martinez-Vich, No. 6 in Division II, 6-3, 7-5. Other than this lone victory, the Gauchos lost the rest of their matches against the Sea Warriors, the No. 5-ranked team in Division II tennis.

The Gauchos continued to struggle in their doubles play, losing the doubles point for the fourth match in a row. The new doubles pair made up of freshmen Teague Hamilton and Erik Johnsson barely lost to their opponents, juniors Adriano Locorotondo and Yann Renault, 8-7, while junior Ziad Sultan and senior Sasha Gryaznov lost 8-5 and the pair of Galskov and junior Miles Seemann fell 8-4.

“I liked how our new pair of Hamilton and Johnsson played,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “I think they’ve earned another chance this weekend against USC.”

Going to play USC will be the Gauchos most difficult test of the season thus far. The Trojans are 7-1 this season and will be looking to add to their record to ensure their place in the NCAA Tournament at the end of the season. USC is coming off losing in the championship match of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships to Ohio State, now the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. USC defeated No. 15 Tennessee, No. 7 Baylor and reigning NCAA runners-up No. 4 UCLA in order to make it to the championship match where the team lost 4-1. This result was similar to that of USC’s loss to Ohio State last spring in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.

“We’ve played well against USC in the past,” Davis said. “They are a great team and it’s my job to get our guys excited for the opportunity to take on this top ranked side and to try to get the upset.”

The Trojans will be led by senior No. 7 Ray Sarmiento and junior No. 16 Yannick Hanfmann. Both players earned ITA All-American honors last year for singles and look to do the same this year. As a doubles pair, they are ranked No. 35 in the nation and will be a big test for Sultan/Gryaznov as the Gauchos top pair.

On Sunday, the Gauchos will come home to take on Fresno State. The Bulldogs are 2-6 overall and have lost their last four matches, most recently to No. 76 Santa Clara this past Sunday, 4-0. After winning all three doubles matches, Santa Clara won the first three singles matches and the dual match was deemed over. The Bulldogs also had a match against Pacific on Wednesday night and will take on New Mexico at home on Friday before playing the Gauchos.

“We don’t know much about Fresno State,” Davis said. “They have a new coach, almost a completely new lineup, but I think we will have a great match against them.”

The Bulldogs’ top player is junior Sai Kartik Nakireddi. He will be followed by freshmen John Darmstaedter and Eric Komati and sophomore Nikolas Papic. The Bulldogs have struggled in doubles, as the Gauchos have, losing the doubles point in their last four losses as well. The Gauchos will look to capitalize on this and gain momentum in order to win the rest for the match.

The Gauchos take on USC at 1 p.m. on Friday in Los Angeles and will play Fresno State at home on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the tennis courts behind the Recreational Center.

 

A version of this article appeared on page 9 of February 20, 2014′s print edition of The Daily Nexus.

Photo by Margarita Baliyan of The Daily Nexus.

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