Since winning last year’s Big West Championship, the UCSB men’s tennis team hasn’t skipped a beat. On their trek to pick up their third consecutive Big West title, the Gauchos host nonleague opponent Saint Mary’s (Calif.) this afternoon at the RecCen tennis courts.
During its current six-game homestand, Santa Barbara has won three of four matches. With its current hot streak, UCSB has upped its record to 9-6 overall and a perfect 4-0 against Big West opposition. Consequently, the Gauchos have run away from Big West competition and are well on their way to locking up the #1 seed in the tournament. Head Coach Marty Davis hopes that they can keep their momentum going into the Big West Tournament.
“It’s very important [to keep momentum], since we have two more home matches, with an important one on Friday against nationally ranked Fresno State,” Davis said. “We want to keep it rolling. We’ve put ourselves into the driver’s seat, where we can clinch the #1 seed with a win at Cal Poly. I’m pleased with the progress of our guys. Our senior Mike Placek is playing really well right now.”
The Saint Mary’s Gaels come into Santa Barbara with a respectable 13-7 record and a 3-3 record in the West Coast Conference. The Gaels have also been playing strongly as of late. They recently had their eight-game winning streak snapped by West Coast Conference rival Loyola Marymount, 5-2. Saint Mary’s slammed UCSB’s cross-town neighbor Westmont 7-2 yesterday afternoon. Davis doesn’t plan on taking this match lightly.
“They are a pretty dangerous team. They beat nationally ranked teams in Portland and the University of San Francisco, and they have three French players and some great foreign talent,” Davis said. “I expect a good match.”
St. Mary’s recent loss was the first since March 7, when they lost to University of the Pacific. Santa Barbara disposed of Pacific 4-3 over the weekend. Saint Mary’s also beat up on Big West opponent Riverside 5-2 during its win streak. Similarly, the Gauchos smashed the Highlanders 6-1 on Jan. 24.
Saint Mary’s will bring its most potent weapon in #1-seeded singles player sophomore Andre Sion. Sion, a native of Perpignan, France, leads the Gaels with 15 victories. The Gauchos will counter with #1 singles netter junior Alex Anselme.
The meeting will be UCSB and Saint Mary’s first meeting since a 5-2 Gaucho victory on Feb. 18, 2001. Placek was the only current Gaucho on the roster at that time. First serve will be at 1:30 p.m.