The UCSB men’s tennis team lost to #72 Georgia Tech 4-2 in a tough match cut short by foul weather Saturday at Santa Barbara.
The Gauchos were only able to complete the singles-play portion of their match against the Yellow Jackets on Saturday before rain ended competition. The doubles matches that usually comprise the other portion of match play were cancelled. Their match against Irvine was rescheduled for Sunday, April 8.
Even though Santa Barbara lost the match, several Gauchos played well. Junior co-captain Marcio Pepe had an excellent individual performance.
After finding himself down four games to five in the deciding third set of his match against Georgia Tech freshman Stephen Moros, Pepe fought back to win, 7-5. Pepe fended off six match-point opportunities by Moros during his comeback.
"My friends yelling at me really helped," Pepe said. "They were cheering me on. I fought really hard and I won thanks to them, and a little help from God, I think."
UCSB freshman Mike Placek also played well, beating GIT senior Sergio Aguirre in three sets. Placek won the first set 6-4, lost the second set 6-3, and won the third set 6-4.
Gaucho sophomore J.J. Stewart lost a close match against Yellow Jacket senior Romain Coirault, 7-6, in the first set and then 6-4 in the second set.
"It was a tight match," Stewart said. "I was a little off. I tried to buy some time to get my rhythm, but I ran out of time."
UCSB junior co-captain Marcin Kosakowski lost his match to Tech sophomore Roger Anderson 1-6 in the first set and 2-6 in the second set. Georgia Tech sophomore David Wright beat freshman Scott Schnugg in two sets, 4-6 and 3-6. Santa Barbara freshman Alex Yaftali lost a close match to freshman Alex Navinkov, winning the first set 6-2, but losing the second and third sets both by the score of 6-3.
Even though the Gauchos came up short on Saturday, they came away feeling more confident about their abilities. UCSB played their opponent closely in every game.
"They had strong players," Schnugg said. "But we fought really hard in the lower half of the order. The better guys play, the more pressure they will put on other guys to play better. That’s what we need."
The next match for the Gauchos will be on Feb. 17 against Santa Clara University.
"[Santa Clara] is a big game," Pepe said. "They really want to beat us. There will be a big crowd there because they’ve never beat us before. [Santa Clara] really wants to win, but I think we’re stronger."