As is customary in collegiate sports, the old must go out just as the new must come in. What makes or breaks the team, though, is how the new make up for the loss of the old.
The UCSB men’s tennis team has a new mix of players this year, the recent addition of five players bringing the roster up to nine. What the new team lacks in chemistry they make up for in talent and tenacity.
“We have a lot of new faces this year,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “There is a lot more energy and enthusiasm from this year’s team.”
The Gauchos are just beginning to practice for the upcoming season, and, even though five members of the squad are new, the team as a whole is already getting pumped up.
“With the new guys, we have a whole new, different group,” Davis said. “But you can already sense the energy and commitment that these guys have.”
The team agrees that having an optimistic attitude and highly enthusiastic outlook will bring it closer to its season’s goals.
“You can see that our team has a better attitude this year, and our attitude is what will take us even further,” senior Matt Coin said.
With the season just rounding first base, the Gauchos are beginning intense practices in hopes of regaining their title of Big West champions and their top-64 NCAA ranking.
“We were two-time defending champions of the Big West Finals,” Davis said.
Last year, this streak ended for top-seeded Santa Barbara after an upsetting loss to the University of the Pacific.
“But this year we have a great team in the aspect that we will do really well,” Davis said.
The Gaucho men are eager to win back their record of success this year.
“The men are hungry to get their hands on the title, and it is time we had it back,” Davis said.
This year’s outcome is especially important tp the seniors.
“After winning the title two years in a row, we were really caught by surprise and now we want it back badly,” senior Leo Basica said. “I especially want to win it before I leave UCSB.”
Along with regaining the lost title, the men are aspiring to rank even higher in the NCAA, which would allow them to compete in the annual NCAA Tournament of the top 64 teams.
“Last year we placed 66th in the nation, therefore missing the tournament cut-off by two places,” Davis said. “We want to make at least the top 64 this year.”
The team has even higher ambitions for this season.
“We made it our team goal to place in the top 50,” Basica said.
To achieve these goals, the men will compete in many tournaments and individual matches in order to establish themselves in the rankings.
To kick off the season, Davis is preparing to take junior Nick Brotman and Ivan D’Argence Arceo, a new junior transfer from Indiana State, to the All-American Tournament in Chattanooga, Tenn., this weekend. Next weekend, the entire team will travel to Santa Clara to attend the Bronco Classic.
“We hope to send the message to other schools that we are back, and we will be going to the NCAA this year,” Davis said.
The Gaucho’s lot has not been determined yet, but will be heavily influenced by the series of individual tournaments that are coming up. According to Davis, UCSB’s initial matches are not only vital in determining the ability of every team member, but are also an important psychological test before heading into the dual match season.
“The guys can also earn their own spots in the national individual tournament in May, in addition to the team’s spot,” Davis said.
Traditionally, teams take the top one or two players.
“Our men have a very good chance, both as a team and for the individual tournament,” Davis said.
With a season that essentially lasts all year, Santa Barbara has a hefty task ahead of it. The team has a “good mix” of players who have shown that they are willing to sacrifice for the long haul, Davis said.
“Our team is so driven and goal-oriented this year; you can see it from our practices,” Basica said. “Everyone comes prepared and motivated.”
This season should turn out to be an exhilarating one for Santa Barbara. The team highly anticipates reaching its goals of being league champions and making it to the NCAA Tournament.
“With focus and hard work, our goals are realistic,” Coin said. “And we are all excited and looking forward to the upcoming season.”