Alas, they aren’t invincible. The UCSB men’s tennis team experienced a rare kink in its armor after dropping its final Big West showdown against Central Coast rival Cal Poly 4-3. The narrow defeat snapped Santa Barbara’s three-match winning streak. Fresh off their ascent into the national ranks, the loss is a letdown for the #65 Gauchos after upsetting #39 Fresno State last Saturday.
“It was a bit of a letdown. They really came after us from the get-go. They played really hard and got off to a quick start with the doubles point,” junior Leo Basica said.
The Mustangs began their quest to upset the Gauchos by snatching the doubles point, winning two out of the three doubles matches.
Junior Alex Anselme and freshman Chris Wetzig were edged out by Bret Van Linge and John Nguyen of Cal Poly 9-8 at #1 singles. Anselme’s usual partner at #1 doubles, senior Mike Placek, was unable to play because of apparent knee inflammation. Placek had an MRI taken and should be ready for this weekend’s road trip. Similarly, sophomore Nicholas Brotman and freshman Elad Stern fell to their Mustang opponents Matt Baca and Nick Tracy 8-4 at #2 singles. Junior Matthew Coin and freshman Nicholas Edlefsen knocked off their Cal Poly counterparts at #3 doubles 8-2, although the Mustangs still won the point.
At #1 singles, Anselme had his two-match win streak come to a halt when Nguyen defeated him at #1 singles 6-2, 6-2. Stern defeated Brian Kent at #3 singles 7-6, 6-2. Coin won at #5 singles and #6 singles. Basica won in his rare appearance filling in for Placek 0-6, 6-1, 6-2. However, the match was clinched for Cal Poly at #2 singles when Brotman lost to Mustang opponent Van Linge 6-4, 7-6.
The loss ended UCSB’s run at a perfect conference record. Despite the defeat, UCSB still holds a 11-7 overall record and an impressive 4-1 record in the Big West. Cal Poly’s victory may snatch away the Gaucho’s sure bid for a #1 seed in the tournament, but a berth is still likely.
“I don’t know how much it effects us; it really depends on how Irvine finishes up,” said Basica. “We should still have the first spot.”
This weekend the Gauchos travel south to San Diego to take on nationally ranked opponents in #32 University of San Diego and #71 San Diego State.