Big West conference player of the year Nicolas Moreno de Alboran notched an upset victory on Wednesday in the first round of the NCAA men’s tennis singles tournament, knocking off No.43 Alexis Galarneau in three sets to move on to the round of 32.
With the victory, Moreno de Alboran’s remarkable season– in which he has won 15 matches and was voted ITA player to watch in the southwest region– will continue for at least one more day.
After dominating the first set by a score of 6-3, Moreno de Alboran fell behind early in the second set, ultimately dropping it by a score of 6-4 and making set three a sudden death set.
Moreno de Alboran, now ranked No 67. in the country for singles– his highest individual total this season– was never fazed, relying on the forehand that has been his go-to shot all season. Moreno de Alboran displayed his poise, winning that last set by a score of 6-4 and clinching a spot in the next round.
Moreno de Alboran’s accomplishment cannot be understated– he is now the first Gaucho to win a singles match in the NCAA tournament since 1995. It is also just the fifth overall win at this tournament in school history for the team.
Now, Moreno de Alboran will face an uphill battle against the top-ranked singles tennis player in the country: UCLA Senior Martin Redlicki. Redlicki finished the season with video game-esque numbers, going 16-4 at the one spot despite playing in the highly competitive pac-12 conference. Between dual and tour play, Redlicki has gone 20-5 against ranked opponents this season– one of the best marks in the entire country.
But Redlicki struggled a bit on wednesday, dropping the first set against No.33 Tim Sandkaulen before coming back to win the last two sets, including the last set by a score of 6-1. If Moreno de Alboran came jump out of the gate quickly and utilize his forehand and serve, he could pull off the surprise of the tournament.
While Moreno de Alboran has already earned many individual accolades this season, a victory would grant him All-American status– a status that a Gaucho has not earned since 1989, when Kip Brady won three matches to make it to the quarterfinals.
Moreno de Alboran will take on Redlicki at 10:30 at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex on Thursday morning.
Brandon Victor currently serves as the assistant sports editor. He has covered men’s tennis, men’s soccer and women’s basketball in his two years at the Daily Nexus.