In baseball terms, the UCSB men’s tennis team showed Big West foe Riverside the meaning of perfection, facing seven Highlanders and sitting seven down.
The #74 Gauchos swept the Highlanders 7-0 on Saturday at UCSB’s RecCen Courts to continue a two-match string of impressive outings. The Gauchos mixed up the lineup quite a bit, scratching Santa Barbara’s top players and allowing other role players the opportunity to shine.
“We basically emptied the bench,” UCSB Head Coach Marty Davis said. “I was confident enough to get other people in the lineup and still come away successfully.”
Junior Jerome Chan, a four-year role player for the Gauchos, filled the line of duty at two positions against the Highlanders. Chan demolished UCR’s Justin Betyar 6-1, 6-4 at #5 singles and cruised to victory at #3 doubles with freshman teammate Leo Basica over Riverside’s freshman tandem of Jordan Leo and Caesar Regaliza 8-5.
“We got Jerome Chan a chance to play, and he had a great day,” Davis said. “It’s guys like him who work so hard during the year that deserve an opportunity.”
Junior Mike Placek took over for senior Carlos Palencia, ordinarily UCSB’s #1 singles player. Normally slated at the #3 singles slot, Placek disposed freshman Norman Tam 6-3, 6-3 to win the #1 singles point.
The Gauchos have had poor luck with the rain. Sunday’s scheduled match with San Diego State was rained out and will likely not be rescheduled due to time conflicts between the two squads.
Ironically enough, UCSB plays Division II power University of San Diego today at 1:30 p.m. on the RecCen Courts in a rain make-up game scheduled with Brigham Young earlier in the season.
Saturday’s victory moved Santa Barbara to 10-8 overall. The two straight wins bode well for the Gauchos, who hope to defend their Big West Tournament title. Santa Barbara expects a #2 seed in this year’s conference tournament, which means that, unlike last year, when the team gutted out a #1 seed and a first-round bye, UCSB will likely have to play in the first round.
With national recognition awarded to teams in the top 75, the Gauchos would love to finish the year ranked. A win over #34 San Diego State at the RecCen Courts would probably assure UCSB a spot on the national list.