The UCSB men’s tennis team’s trek to the #1 seed in the Big West Tournament takes them to Stockton to face Pacific this weekend. A win would secure the coveted #1 seed, while a loss would drop the Gauchos to #3.
“If we win, we will be #1, and that is huge because the #3 seed plays an extra match,” senior Leo Basica said. “Since the Big West Tournament is in Palm Desert, that extra match will be huge.”
The Gauchos (7-10 overall, 2-0 in the Big West) have won three straight and five of their last seven, but the team has yet to win on the road.
“We’re not nervous to go on the road this time around,” Basica said. “We aren’t playing Pac-10 teams like before, and we are not playing in conditions unfamiliar to us like playing indoors or at high altitudes, and we’re not traveling and playing in the same day. We’ve been playing well and have lots of confidence.”
UCSB’s recent success has not gone unnoticed, as the team has returned to the national rankings, coming in at #66 this week, the highest of any Big West team. Being nationally ranked was one of the team’s main goals for the season, but only the 50 highest-ranked teams receive an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
“We started off nationally ranked and the long road trip knocked us out,” Basica said. “It’s nice to return to the rankings, but since we’re not in the top 50, our priority is on winning the Big West. That’s all that matters right now.”
Pacific (8-9 overall, 2-1 Big West) comes into the match having lost two straight matches and five of their last seven. Earlier this year, Pacific fell to Irvine 5-2, a team UCSB dismantled 6-1.
Pacific boasts two of the best singles players in the land, sophomore #84 Arnar Sigurdsson and junior #108 Jorgen Vestli. Gaucho senior Alex Anselme and junior Nick Brotman will definitely have their hands full at #1 and #2 singles.
Anselme was named last week’s Big West Player of the Week. Anselme knocked off the #43 player in the country, San Diego State’s Benedikt Stronk, as well as Harvard’s Ashwin Kumar.
“The doubles point will be huge in the Pacific match,” Basica said. “We have been winning it the last few matches. We have had some success against their singles players earlier in the year and feel that we’ll be able to grind it out.”
UCSB closes out the weekend with another match on the road, this one against #60 Fresno State. The Bulldogs (9-8) defeated Pacific 4-3 last week and knocked off Santa Clara earlier in the year, a team that beat the Gauchos.