Revenge is oh so sweet.
The UCSB men’s tennis team avenged their only conference loss of the season with a victory in the Big West semifinals over Cal Poly 4-2. The sweet taste of revenge quickly changed to bittersweet as Pacific avenged two straight defeats at the hands of the Gauchos in the final round of the Big West Tournament with an upset over the favored Gauchos 4-1.
This was the third consecutive year in which these two squads met in the finals. The last two years the Gauchos got the better of Pacific, but this year Pacific finally got over the hump. Last year, Santa Barbara upset the #1 seeded Tigers.
UCSB was also victorious 4-3 earlier in the season when the two faced off in Santa Barbara. Little adjustments and intangibles ultimately put the 4th seeded Tigers over the top.
“We played at home (last time) and we were able to win the doubles point,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “They switched up their doubles teams, and successfully at that.”
Pacific won matches at both #2 and #3 doubles to get out to a quick 1-0 lead. Sophomore Nicholas Brotman and freshman Elad Stern were defeated at #2 doubles 8-4. Junior Matthew Coin and freshman Nicholas Edlefsen were knocked off at #3 doubles 8-1. Top-seeded doubles team of senior Mike Placek and junior Alex Anselme did not finish their match because the point had already been secured by Pacific.
Despite strongly contested matches at singles, Edlefsen picked up the lone point for the Gauchos at #6 singles over Tiger Tyler Black 6-2, 7-6 (5).
“We fought really hard today at singles; I was really proud of how our guys played,” Davis said. “Unfortunately, today it just wasn’t enough.”
The Gauchos’ only senior player, Placek, lost his final match to Michael Duong 6-4, 6-4.
“The sad part was for Mike; he helped turn this program around,” said Davis. “He came on board when this team was 4-17. We were really hoping to send him off with another title; that was really the most disappointing part.”
Despite a strong season coupled with a regular season title, the Gauchos would need a miracle to receive an at large bid into the NCAA tournament. With 30 conferences nationwide receiving automatic bids, the next 34 teams are picked based on national rankings. With a national ranking of #64, their chances of getting picked are virtually nonexistent.
UCSB finishes the season with a 13-8 record.