The UCSB men’s tennis team was in Santa Barbara this past Spring Break week for four important home matches.
The Gauchos overwhelmed Hawai’i 6-1 last Wednesday, but Santa Barbara would go on to lose matches against #35 Harvard 5-2 on Thursday and #8 Southern Methodist University 7-0 on Friday. UCSB then defeated Idaho 5-2 in a crucial Big West conference matchup Saturday.
“I think the whole week was positive,” junior co-captain Marcio Pepe said. “We played close in every match. We gave a lot of effort. We were knocking on the door every time.”
In Santa Barbara’s win over Hawai’i, the Gauchos played their best tennis of the season. After losing two of the three doubles matches, UCSB came back strong, winning every singles matchup played.
“We were feeling down after the doubles losses,” junior co-captain Marcin Kosakowski said. “But we came back positive and upbeat and we played great.”
Pepe believed that Santa Barbara’s play against Hawai’i helped the team to build up a great deal of confidence in the Gauchos’ following matches.
“I think it was the highlight of the year,” Pepe said. “We played great and with a lot of heart.”
Though UCSB would lose its next match against Harvard on Thursday, the Gauchos’ new confidence was evident. Santa Barbara played tight against the nationally ranked Crimson tight, only losing by a slim margin. Kosakowski played especially well, defeating Harvard’s best player, freshman Cliff Nguyen, in straight sets, 7-6 and 6-4.
“Personally, it was a big win.” Kosakowski said. “It was a major confidence builder. It was disappointing for the team to lose, but I think we’re headed in the right direction. We gave [Harvard] a battle.”
UCSB’s next opponent was not any easier, as the Gauchos faced highly ranked SMU. Although Santa Barbara played well, it was unable to notch a victory in both singles and doubles play.
“It was a tough match,” senior David Angert said. “[SMU] is a very good team. We fought hard, but I guess we just didn’t have it that day.”
The UCSB men’s tennis team finished its Spring Break by beating Idaho in an important Big West match Saturday. The Gauchos’ victory was significant in that it will substantially impact their seeding in the Big West Tournament.
“We lost to Idaho last year,” Pepe said. “So we really enjoyed beating them this time.”
Santa Barbara will play the University of San Diego this coming Saturday at home, and Kosakowski believes the team is aware of the magnitude of the upcoming matches.
“We have a lot of confidence right now,” Kosakowski said. “If we win all our conference matches left, we could be the number-two seed for the Big West Tournament. [San Diego] is the biggest match of the year. We believe we can play with anybody.”