The last few matches for the UCSB men’s tennis team have been virtually a cakewalk. Winners of eight of their last 10 games and four of their last five matches, the Gauchos conclude their six-game homestand with a non-league showdown against annual powerhouse Fresno State (11-6) today at 1:30 p.m. at the Cathedral Oaks Athletic Club.
UCSB aims to tame the #39 nationally ranked Bulldogs who will be licking their chops for the Gauchos. Having played only two matches since March 16, the Bulldogs have recently dropped in the national rankings from #35 to #39 despite a four-game winning streak.
The Gauchos hope their string of strong outings will continue with the match against Fresno.
“It will be a challenge, [Fresno State] is ranked in the top 50,” junior Matthew Coin said. “At the same time, though, we see it as a great opportunity to get back into the national ranks.”
Fresno State (11-6) ripped off two-straight wins against Division II opponents UC Davis and UC San Diego last Sunday, both by a score of 6-1. Gaucho junior #1 seed Alex Anselme will have his hands full with Fresno State #1 seed junior Greg Shearer. Shearer is the lone Fresno State netter who is nationally ranked. He was recently promoted from a #91 national ranking to #70. At one point, the native of Christchurch, New Zealand was ranked #6 in his home country. Nonetheless, it will be a battle. Anselme, on the other hand, recently dominated his St. Mary’s opponent en route to an overwhelming Gaucho victory.
If the Gauchos can get out to a quick start and steal the doubles point, their chances of pulling off the upset will dramatically improve. When winning the doubles point, Fresno State is a menacing 9-1 on the year. Another important advantage the Gauchos have is their record of strong showings at home, all the more significant when combined with the Bulldogs apparent inability to win away from Fresno. Fresno State is an unimpressive 2-6 on the road this year.
Today’s match will be senior Mike Placek’s final home appearance. Placek has won five matches in a row.
The Gauchos will travel up Highway 101 for their final conference match against Cal Poly on April 14.