Only pride was at stake in Tuesday’s match between the UCSB men’s tennis team and Westmont. The winner claimed Santa Barbara-Montecito bragging rights and personal gratification in the offseason.
The Gauchos won, but they aren’t ready to enjoy the offseason yet.
In its last match of the regular season, the Santa Barbara team took care of Westmont on Tuesday at 2p.m. at the RecCen courts 6-1. The Gauchos swept past the Warriors to capture another win and propel the momentum into the Big West Tournament this weekend.
“Everyone is playing their best tennis of the season,” senior singles player Marcin Kosakowski said.
Santa Barbara holds the top seed in this year’s Big West Tournament. Although the playoffs begin tomorrow in Ojai, the Gauchos’ No. 1 ranking allows for a bye in the first round, and UCSB will gladly take the extra day of rest and an automatic trip to the semi-finals.
UCSB will make its run at the Big West Championship when they face off with either No. 4 Cal Poly or No. 5 Idaho on Friday at 8 a.m.
“We just need to play the same tennis,” Kosakowski said. “Everyone needs to stay positive.”
UCSB finished the regular season at the top of the Big West in a tie with two other conference foes. Santa Barbara, Pacific and Irvine had identical records in conference in the Big West standings at the end of the year. Since conflict arose in seeding for the playoffs, the Big West coaches called a conference call in hopes of finding resolution. The coaches called a vote in order to configure the rankings. As a result, the committee voted UCSB into the No. 1 slot, Irvine as the two seed and Pacific third.
“That’s huge. All of the teams had very good seasons. Being the No. 1 seed is very helpful. We will get a first round bye and face the winner of the No. 4 vs. No. 5 match in the semis on Friday. If we win that, we will most likely face the winner of the Irvine/UOP semi-final,” UCSB Head Coach Marty Davis said. “We really like our chances.”
Santa Barbara has more than one reason to win the Big West Championship this weekend. Not only would the Gauchos love to own this year’s conference crown, but UCSB must win to earn an automatic bid to nationals.