The UCSB men’s tennis team had a rough Presidents’ Day weekend, losing two of three important road matches.
The Gauchos dropped a close match to Santa Clara on Saturday, four to three. Santa Barbara rebounded on Sunday, defeating St. Mary’s 5-2. UCSB finished the weekend in Berkeley, losing to the #24 Golden Bears 4-2.
The Gauchos’ road trip this weekend was highlighted by several excellent individual performances. UCSB sophomore Michael Faust played his first match as a Gaucho on Saturday, beating Santa Clara freshman Eric Chen. Faust, who transferred from BYU, lost the first set six games to four, but fought back to win the second set 7-5 and the third set 6-1.
"I started off well, but I tightened up because it was my first match." Faust said. "After the first set, I told myself, ‘I can’t lose to this guy. I’m better than that.’ I got more aggressive and started attacking."
Santa Barbara’s decisive win against St. Mary’s on Sunday featured great doubles play. UCSB won every doubles match played. Santa Barbara junior co-captain Marcin Kosakowski and sophomore J.J. Stewart won their match 9-7. Freshman Scott Schnugg and Alex Yaftali won 8-4. Faust and freshman Mike Placek won their doubles match 8-4.
UCSB traveled to Berkeley on Monday to battle the Golden Bears. The match began outside, but rain forced singles play indoors. Doubles play was canceled. Gaucho junior co-captain Marcio Pepe played well, beating Cal sophomore Robert Kowalczyk in two sets, 6-3, 4-3. Schnugg won a close match against Bears’ freshman Balazs Veress, 7-6, 1-6, and 4-3.
Schnugg believed the change from outdoor courts to indoor courts blunted the Gauchos’ competitive edge.
"They were moving us around all day," Schnugg said. "After it started raining, we moved inside. Before that we had the advantage, but the time off really slowed us down."
Santa Barbara has another tough three-game stretch on the road this coming weekend. The Gauchos will play #72 Oregon on Friday and then the #19 ranked Washington on Saturday. UCSB will finish its trip by squaring off against Portland University on Sunday.
"The next three games will be big opportunities," Pepe said. "We’re playing two very good teams. It will let us build our confidence. We don’t care if they’re ranked or not. We’re going to play every game as hard as we can."