The UCSB men’s tennis team begins its journey of making it to the NCAA tournament this weekend with its last home match this Friday against fellow Big West Conference opponent UC Davis. The Gauchos take on the Aggies in a battle which will have an impact on both teams’ seeds in the upcoming Big West Tournament.
Santa Barbara enters the matchup at 7-12 overall and 2-0 in the Big West while UCD is 13-8 overall and 2-1 in conference play.
The Gauchos are coming off a 7-0 victory over UC Riverside, giving UCSB a chance to win the top seed at the end of season tournament if it wins its remaining two conference match over UC Davis and Cal Poly the following week.
Led by junior Tobias Galskov and his 13 dual match victories in the No. 1 position and freshman Teague Hamilton and his 12 dual match victories from the No. 5 position, the Gauchos hope to catch fire to the end the season with a trip to the NCAA tournament.
“We need everyone in order to win conference,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “This includes all the players competing as well as the practices, guys. We need everything to go right, and we have a history of guys playing well at the end of the season, so I hope that continues this season as well. I look for our guys to be rounding into peak form for the end of the season stretch run.”
In addition to Galskov and Hamilton, the Gauchos will need junior Miles Seemann to continue winning matches from the No. 6 position and continue his run of winning seven of his last ten matches. Junior Ziad Sultan has also won six of his last 10 matches at the No. 2 position.
UCSB will also look to continue winning its doubles matches. What began as the Gauchos’ hindrance at the beginning of the season has become their strength as Santa Barbara has won the doubles point in its last two matches. The most consistent doubles teams for the Gauchos this season have been Hamilton playing with sophomore Andrew Riminton at No. 3 doubles as they have won nine matches this season playing together, while Galskov and Sultan playing at No. 1 have gone 6-2.
Looking towards Friday’s match, Davis has his players resting their shoulders while working on leg fitness.
“Indian Wells is going to be about 97 degrees when we play the tournament there at the end of the year, and our guys are preparing for it now,” Davis said. “We are getting ready for the crunch time here at the end of the season.”
UC Davis is the most improved team in the Big West from last season. Playing at No. 1 singles will be freshman Alec Adamson from Corona Del Mar. He boasts a 13-7 dual match record this season and a 21-9 overall record including the fall tour season.
Following Adamson will be fellow freshmen James Wade, who is 17-2 in dual matches. Bryce Mckelvie is also 11-2 in dual matches. This young squad will be a formidable foe for the Gauchos, as the Aggies will also be vying for the top seed going into the conference tournament. They have defeated UC Riverside and UC Irvine in conference matches while losing to Hawaii and will be coming into Santa Barbara off a win of their own, as they defeated San Diego State 4-3 on April 5.
“Our guys are ready for these big upcoming matches. When they show up they can sense the importance of the matches and come out with more intensity and more passion,” Davis said. “I look for our guys to outwork the other teams and outlast them due to our top fitness level.”
The Gauchos take on the Aggies at 1:30 p.m. Friday afternoon at the Rec Cen Courts and will honor senior Sasha Gryaznov on Senior Day at his last home match of his Gaucho career.
This article is an online exclusive and did not appear in the print edition of The Daily Nexus.
Photo by Margarita Baliyan of The Daily Nexus.