Like the Social Democrats in recent German elections, UCSB senior netter Carlos Palencia has consolidated and expanded his reputation among the nation’s top tennis players, boosting the UCSB men’s tennis team’s morale and quest for national recognition.

The Sept. 9 Omni Hotels Collegiate Tennis preseason rankings, voted on by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Ranking Committee, listed Palencia No. 40 among Division 1 tennis players. In 2001 Palencia peaked a ranking of No. 42 by beating UCLA’s No. 1 doubles player in the country, ex-Davis Cup competitor Jean-Julien Rojer and two starters on USC’s 2002 NCAA Championship team.

The preseason ranking opens the door for Palencia to prove his skills on an even higher level, receiving an automatic bid to the main draw of the ITA Men’s All-American Championship on Oct. 10-13 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

“My ranking shows how much better the team as a whole has gotten over the last year,” Palencia said.

Representing UCSB in the main draw of such a prestigious tournament is an opportunity for the Gauchos to receive national recognition. The senior from Cordoba, Mexico identifies his national recognition as the natural consequence of a fruitful team effort and is excited about seeing Santa Barbara in the spotlight.

“It’s great to hear people talking about the UCSB men’s tennis program,” Palencia said. “But we’re more concerned with achieving our main goal of making it to the Sweet 16.”

UCSB Head Coach Marty Davis, a former ATP top-50 singles player and current spiritual leader, adds another component that will help his number one player reach his full potential. In terms of the No. 40, Davis is specifically exuberant about two accompanying externalities.

“It gives [the other team members] a psychological boost if they see Carlos perform well against the nation’s top players,” Davis said. “But it also provides our program with national attention, which facilitates the competitive recruitment process.”

Palencia understands the value of improvement. In order to reach the next level, last year’s Big West Player of the Year identifies his service efficiency and fitness level as the main focal areas of attention.

“Improving my service percentage will give me more free points,” Palencia said. “It will allow me to become quicker on the court and to run down more balls.”