One would think being nationally-ranked would mean you could compete against anyone. This is not the case when one faces UCLA.
The #67 UCSB (2-1 overall) men’s tennis team was swept 7-0 by the #2 Bruins (5-0 overall) Tuesday. UCLA has not lost a single point this season.
“UCLA played in the national championship last year,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “We played much better than the score shows.”
Senior Alex Anselme, playing at the #1 singles spot, battled sophomore Ben Kohlloeffel, ranked #8 nationally, to match point. Anselme eventually fell 11-9 in the tiebreaker after scores of 6-4, 4-6 in the first two sets.
“I’ve played against players that are tough in the past and done well,” Anselme said. “I expected it to be a competitive match and am disappointed that I didn’t win. But I am pleased with the way I and the team played.”
Despite Anselme’s loss, Davis was still optimistic.
“To play someone of a caliber that tough says a lot about Alex,” Davis said. “I can take nothing but positives from his play today.”
The Gauchos held strong at the #3 spot in the singles rotation, as junior Ivan d’Argence, hot off a quality showing in the season openers, hung in both sets falling 6-3, 7-6.
The devastating news for UCSB came at #4 singles. Tied 4-4 in the first set, junior Nick Brotman injured his groin muscle. It was unclear how serious that injury was.
“We are already really short on players, so Nick’s situation comes at a bad time,” Anselme said. “All we can do is move forward and hope that he recovers soon and won’t miss the next match.”
Brotman was an All-Big West selection last year and part of this year’s #1 doubles team.
“Nick’s situation is unfortunate,” Davis said. “This definitely makes it harder to go forward, especially when it comes to doubles. We do have a balanced team and should be able to get through this. Hopefully he can get back on track soon.”
The Gauchos lost all three doubles matches, serving for the win at #3 before losing 9-7 and staying competitive at #2. The #1 doubles pairing of Brotman and d’Argence was defeated 8-4.
“Overall we have to be pleased with the doubles play and the singles matches that we were competitive in,” David said. “We played UCLA much tougher than we have in the past and now can just look to move forward.”
Elad Stern lost 6-3, 6-2, Leo Basica fell 6-3, 6-3 and Anders Dalskov was dropped 6-2, 6-3 in the other singles matches.
When it came down to it, the perennial powerhouse Bruins just proved to be too strong for the Gauchos.
“Hopefully we are more in our comfort zone after this match. We went to UCLA and played well in my eyes. Playing one of the top teams in the country in their place should give us confidence in the future,” Davis said.
UCSB will travel to Tucson on Saturday to face Arizona at 12 p.m.