Vienna, Austria – In its first dual match of the season last Saturday, the UCSB men’s tennis team welcomed the University of San Francisco to Gaucho turf and clinched a 6-1 victory thanks to a convincing singles performance. On Monday, however, the young Santa Barbara squad received little love from #7 USC, losing 6-1 to the defending national champions.

In the season opener, the Gauchos were the doubles point shy of sweeping the Dons. Nevertheless, the win was far from easy, and the afternoon in front of a frantic home crowd did not start off in a promising fashion. The defending Big West Champions fought back from an emotional 9-7 loss at the decisive #3 doubles slot, providing USF with an early 1-0 lead, to take five of six singles matches in straight sets.

At #1 singles, Carlos Palencia, a senior from Mexico, defeated Joachim Lien 7-6, 6-3. Palencia’s solid performance this early in the year and the support of the fans impressed UCSB Head Coach Marty Davis.

“I was really happy with the spirit and competitiveness the guys showed,” Davis said. “It was also a great help to have the entire women’s team and the Bryan twins [Mike and Bob, the #8 doubles team on the ATP tour] there to support us throughout the match. They provided a lot of energy and inspiration for our team.”

On Monday, the Gauchos succumbed to the men of Troy. USC swept doubles to take a 1-0 lead in the match. The #1 and #2 doubles were each decided by a close 9-7. Palencia, sophomore Alex Anselme and freshman Michael Frick each dropped two-set decisions at the #1, #3 and #5 spots to ensure a USC victory, but the match was far from over for the Gauchos.

Following a 6-4, 6-3 win by the Trojans’ Scott Patterson over sophomore Ilya Leshinsky at court six, Santa Barbara, down 5-0, sent the #2 and #4 matches into a third set. UCSB freshman Mirco Schwindt finished first, losing a heartbreaker in the tiebreak of the third set, 3-6, 6-3, 9-7 to Daniel Langre. After losing his first set 7-6, junior Mike Placek took the second set from USC’s Ruben Torres 7-5. In a final 10-point tiebreaker, the service-machine Placek came out on top, 12-10, securing the Gauchos’ lone win on the afternoon.

Santa Barbara hosts Loyola Marymount on Saturday at 1 p.m.