The #70 UCSB men’s tennis team heads into this weekend’s matchup with #39 University of San Diego on a three-game tear.
The Gauchos defeated defending Division II champion UC San Diego 4-3 on Tuesday afternoon at Santa Barbara’s RecCen Courts. UCSB improved to 11-8 overall, and a win this weekend against the Toreros would be a perfect ending to the regular season. Santa Barbara hosts USD at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
“I think that we are just starting to play our best tennis right now,” UCSB Head Coach Marty Davis said. “If we can win on Saturday against the #39 team in the county, that will certainly give us momentum heading into the Big West Tournament and also improve our national ranking.”
Even though San Diego is highly ranked and playing very good tennis this season, it is considered a bubble team for selection to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid. The Toreros have slipped in the West Coast Conference Tournament, but a win versus the Gauchos would help their record and their chances of being accepted into the NCAA by the selection committee.
Tuesday against the Tritons, the Gauchos stormed out to win the first four points, including the crucial doubles point. Santa Barbara then lost three close matches at the singles points to make the score closer than Davis would have hoped.
“Did [senior] Carlos [Palencia] play his best tennis? Probably not,” Davis said. “His serves were off, but his opponent is nationally ranked at the Division II level and has beaten Carlos before at the junior college level.”
The Gauchos would certainly love to make it four in a row and continue their steady climb up the rankings. Palencia leads the charge for Santa Barbara and looks to rebound after a tight three-set loss at #1 singles against UCSD. Davis notes that other players will need to step up to meet the challenge presented to them on Saturday.
“[Sophomore] Alex Anselme has really moved up a lot,” Davis said. “His scores have really improved, and I’m really liking the way he’s playing.”