The UCSB men’s tennis team hopes strong performances this weekend against Georgia Tech and Irvine will be the spark that fuels a championship season.

The Gauchos will be tested with back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday by two strong teams. The #72 Yellow Jackets will be playing the first match of their season Saturday against Santa Barbara at noon. On Sunday, the rival Anteaters will be in town to play UCSB at 1 p.m. The outcome of this weekend’s matches could lift the Gauchos to a 3-2 season record or leave them in a hole at 1-4.

"[Georgia Tech and UC Irvine] are big home matches," freshman Mike Placek said. "We’re all anxious to get out there. They’ll be huge wins if we pull this one off. Home-field advantage will be good for us."

After soundly beating Loyola Marymount last Saturday, Santa Barbara is feeling confident. The Gauchos hope to carry the momentum they built up last week into the upcoming matches that could set the tone for the rest of the season.

"I’m going to try to be aggressive," junior co-captain Marcin Kosakowski said. "We don’t want to give them time. We want to attack and keep them to short points."

Beating a nationally ranked Georgia Tech team would give this young Santa Barbara squad a great experience to grow on. Defeating Irvine would make this weekend special. The Gauchos and the Anteaters have developed a heated rivalry. Both teams respect one another, but there is also an obvious dislike. After losing its match to Irvine last year, UCSB will be looking to make amends.

"[Georgia Tech and UC Irvine] are tough teams," sophomore J.J. Stewart said. "We want to go in there with confidence. I’m looking forward to it."