The UCSB men’s tennis team endured two rough loses over Easter weekend, losing on Friday to Irvine, 4-3, and Sunday to San Diego State, 7-0.
Santa Barbara’s tough schedule has not made this an easy season for the Gauchos, who have now dropped to 5-14 for the year. However, excellent individual performances and strong team confidence have kept UCSB optimistic as it heads toward the Big West Tournament.
“We’re going to just forget about all the matches we’ve lost,” freshman Alex Yaftali said. “Everyone is being positive. I think we can still do very well [in the Big West Tournament].”
The loss to the Anteaters was especially difficult for the Gauchos. Although Santa Barbara and Irvine were locked in a close match all day, UCSB was unable to come away with the win.
“We were crushed because they’re such big rival for us and because the match was so close,” junior co-captain Marcio Pepe said. “We were sad afterwards, but I think it is also motivation for us to play better.”
Even though Santa Barbara lost the match, several Gauchos played well individually against Irvine. Junior co-captain Marcin Kosakowski and sophomore J.J. Stewart continued their hot doubles play, beating UCI seniors Oliver Schweizer and David Matthews, 9-8. Kosakowski also played well at the #1 singles spot, defeating Schweizer in three sets, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3.
“I attacked the net really well,” Kosakowski said. “[Schweizer] offered no pace, so I took the initiative and played aggressive.”
Stewart also made a strong showing in his singles match, topping Matthews in three closely contested sets, 7-5, 6-7, and 6-4. Yaftali was on top of his game against the Anteaters, defeating sophomore Greg Biorkman in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3.
“I played really aggressive,” Yaftali said. “I was going after my shots and attacking the net. I was putting a lot of pressure on [Biorkman].”
Sunday’s match against San Diego State was no better for UCSB, as the Gauchos failed to win a match in either singles or doubles play.
“I think everybody was a little down after Irvine,” sophomore Michael Faust said. “Coming back Sunday against San Diego State was tough. We weren’t as fired up and I think that hurt us a little.”
Santa Barbara is looking past its performance against the Aztecs and forward to its match this Tuesday against Cal Poly.
“We tried to forget the match [against San Diego State] right away,” Kosakowski said. “We didn’t play well, but that doesn’t matter. We have to be confident.”