The No. 75 UCSB men’s tennis team struggled through a tough road trip to San Diego this past weekend and was unable to win either of its two matches.
The Gauchos (6-6 overall, 2-1 Big West) started off their vacation to the far reaches of Southern California by dropping a disappointing match to No. 55 University of San Diego, 6-1. Santa Barbara could not break the funk they were in on Sunday as it was once again defeated by the count of 6-1, but this time at the hands of No. 41 San Diego State.
Against the Toreros, the Gauchos’ lone bright spot came from the same place it has all season long, the No.1 singles spot and junior Carlos Palencia. Palencia, currently ranked No. 42 in the nation, manhandled No. 86 Ricardo Rizo in straight sets, 6-3, 6-0. Palencia had all of his shots working on Thursday, especially his service return. His aggressive returns allowed him to break Rizo three times in the final set alone.
Sunday afternoon, as the sun warmed the San Diego sky, the Gauchos seemed to cool off. Even Palencia was unable to continue his winning streak, falling to No. 28 Oliver Maiberger in straight sets, 6-4 and 6-4.
Only senior co-captain Marcio Pepe could muster a victory out of the No. 6 singles spot, and what a win it was. Squaring off against Triton Khalid Naffa, Pepe completed one of the best comebacks this season for the Gauchos. After losing the first set 4-6, the 5’11” senior from Sao Paulo, Brazil rebounded to claim the next to sets, and the match, 6-4, 7-6.
Next up for the Gauchos is a home match at the Campus Courts this Sunday against the University of Oregon. UCSB is 6-3 all-time against the Ducks and is hoping for results similar to its last home stand, when it won three matches in three days.