Men’s tennis wraps up another pair of meets this week, as UCSB fell just short at 3-4 to No. 9 Baylor University and pulled off a hard-fought 4-3 victory over the University of New Mexico. Following this week’s results, the Gauchos’ record now stands at 7-4 overall on the season.
UCSB has split each of its last three doubleheader meets, with their last sweep coming back in early February against the Pacific Tigers and Fresno State Bulldogs. Last week proved no different as Santa Barbara sought to reestablish a streak of wins while still not being able to manage against another top 25 team.
The Gauchos entered last week after splitting 7-0 rout over Loyola Marymount University and dropping 3-4 to the University of Oregon.
Thursday’s meet began with the doubles portion of the competition as usual. The top 10 ranked duo of junior Simon Freund and senior Morgan Mays went on to extend their season-long undefeated streak, increasing to eight in a row, as they handed a 6-3 loss to Baylor’s redshirt sophomore Will Little and freshman Constantin Frantzen.
Court two went in favor of the opposition as sophomores Nicolas Moreno de Alboran and Anders Holm lost by a final score of 7-5. Fortunately, on court three, freshman Kristian Prior and junior Cody Rakela were able to claim the doubles advantage point for UCSB after they beat sophomore Juan Benitez and senior Max Tchoutakian at 7-6.
The Gaucho lead didn’t last long when the singles portion began to unfold. The Bears have three total nationally ranked players, who all won their sets; Benitez with two 6-3’s, Tchoutakian at a tough three-setter of 3-6 / 6-2 / 6-1 and sophomore Johannes Schretter at 6-2 / 6-4.
Holm sparked a Santa Barbara comeback after he defeated Baylor’s sophomore Jimmy Bendeck in a close 7-5 / 6-7 / 10-8. Gaucho junior Chase Masciorini added another point to the home side’s tally after his 6-4 / 7-5 victory over Frantzen. In the end, Little secured the pair of 6-3 wins over Rakela, that granted No. 9 Baylor a win on the day.
The following day, New Mexico arrived to end their drought and upset UCSB. The beginning of the meet didn’t go in favor of the Gauchos as Mays and Freund’s eight-match undefeated streak was ended by a 7-6 score versus New Mexico’s sophomore Ricky Hernandez-Tong and redshirt senior Rodolfo Jaregui. Moreno and Holm evened out the doubles portion with a 6-4 win, but the advantage point was conceded following Rakela and Prior’s 6-1 defeat to redshirt junior Sean Baklini and junior Jorge Escutia.
The singles portion was much more generous to home side Santa Barbara, thanks to Freund’s 6-1 /6-2, Holm’s pair of 6-4s and Mays’ 7-6 / 7-5 scores, bringing the overall tally to 3-1 in favor of UCSB.
New Mexico fought back as Hernandez-Tong bested Moreno in three sets of 3-6/ 7-6/6-2. Baklini also managed a tough victory over Masciorini at 6-2/7-5/6-3, as the overall meet score was tied up at 3-3. The final match of Rakela and Escutia proved to be the decider and even went to three sets. Ultimately, Rakela prevailed and granted UCSB the win with scores of 6-4/5-7/6-3.
Altogether, another split yet a positive week of matches for UCSB; although they fell to another top 25 team in Baylor, they showed their ability to compete against even the most elite of programs at the national level.
Men’s tennis returns today in a face off against Texas Christian University and again on Wednesday, March 15, against Gonzaga University. Both events are held at 1:30 p.m. at the Rec Cen Tennis Courts.