Coming off back-to-back Big West titles, the UCSB men’s tennis team in its season opener today at 1:30 p.m. hopes to start another Championship run against the Westmont Warriors.

“It will be a challenging match for us. Westmont is ranked 13th in the NAIA [National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics] and this kid they have playing one for them, [senior Thommas] de Liefde, is really good,” UCSB Head Coach Marty Davis said.

This is not the same Westmont team of recent memory. The Warriors lineup is bolstered by the addition of freshman Tony Larson, ranked 49th nationally. It should be tough to counter Larson this season considering the Gauchos lost Carlos Palencia to graduation and Mirco Schwindt, last year’s #2, who is currently in Germany. UCSB must now rely on junior Alex Anselme, who will sit out the upcoming match against Westmont. Despite being sidelined for the match, Anselme made the assertion that Westmont will face a determined opposition.

Sophomore Nicholas Brotman, coming off a dominating performance in his last match, and freshman Elad Stern will lead the Gaucho squad. Rounding out the lineup is senior Mike Placek, junior Leo Basica, freshman Nick Edlefsen and junior transfer Matt Coin.

“We are nationally ranked in the preseason polls and, considering the fact that we’ve lost our top players, it shows that we’re starting to get the recognition the guys deserve,” Davis said.

That may be so, but this season will not be a walk in the park. In many respects this season will be a tough test for the Gauchos with the loss of key players from last season’s squad.