The UCSB men’s tennis team has caught fire, winning twice this weekend and putting itself in prime position to grab the top seed in the Big West Tournament.
The Gauchos (6-10 overall, 2-0 in the Big West) crushed Irvine in a pivotal Big West match Saturday 6-1 and survived against Loyola Marymount on Sunday 4-3. UCSB has now won three straight games, including Thursday’s win over #23 Harvard and five of its last seven.
“It was a great result for us against Irvine,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “The win against Harvard gave us a real boost in morale. We managed to play exceptionally well.”
The Gauchos fed off the dominating performance of senior Alex Anselme and freshman Anders Dalskov, who were victorious 8-2 at #2 doubles.
Sophomore Elad Stern paired with senior Leo Basica for an 8-5 win at #3 doubles, giving UCSB the doubles point.
UCSB was impressive on all levels of singles play, losing only three sets in the six total matches while winning five of the six points. Basica won easily 6-1, 6-4 at #4 singles, while Stern faced little opposition at #5, winning 6-3, 6-2.
The Gauchos were faced with stiff opposition in the other four matches. Junior Nick Brotman squeezed out a 6-4, 6-4 win at #2 singles while junior Ivan d’Argence pulled out an even closer 6-4, 7-6 victory at #3.
Anselme was part of the most exciting match of the day at #1 singles against Irvine’s Brian Morton. Morton seemed paced for an easy victory after winning the first set easily 6-1, but Anselme regained his composure to win the second set 6-3 before winning the third and determining set 7-5. Dalskov was the only Gaucho to fall, losing 6-4, 6-4 at #6 singles to Olof Sjolund.
“Alex was able to come back from triple match point to win,” Davis said. “His win sealed the victory for us. Alex started playing a little wider and eliminated his unforced errors after losing the first set. His adjustments help him get back on track.”
UCSB followed Saturday’s win with a grueling test against LMU. The Gauchos won the deciding doubles point with wins at #1 and #3.
The two teams split the six singles matches, LMU winning at #1 through #3 and the Gauchos taking #4 through #6. Starring for UCSB was junior Hagen Brody, replacing Dalskov at #6 singles. Brody was crushed in the first set 6-1, but rallied back to win 7-5, 6-1. Stern won at the #5 position 6-4, 6-2, while #4 Basica won 6-0, 6-7, 7-6.
“Should we defeat Pacific next weekend, then we will clinch the #1 seed for the tournament,” Davis said. “But if we lose, we will most likely get the #3 seed, so it is a huge match for us.”
UCSB is playing its best tennis of the season on this crucial stretch run, with its goal of reaching the NCAA playoffs well in sight.