For the second consecutive year, Pacific halted the UCSB men’s tennis team’s bid for the Big West title.

“If we played Pacific 10 times, we would definitely win four or five of those matches,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “These two teams are just so evenly matched. It was an unbelievably good college tennis match. The first few matches were played in 35-40 mph winds, but the wind stopped and the quality of tennis was extremely high.”

The #2 Tigers knocked off the #3 Gauchos (11-13 overall, 5-2 Big West) 4-2 in the semifinals of the Big West Tournament. Pacific earned a victory in the doubles point, followed by wins at the #1, #3 and #4 singles spots to secure the victory.

The doubles point came down to the #3 slot after the teams split the top two spots. The Tigers’ Arnar Sigurdsson and Vladimir Zdravkovic routed Gaucho juniors Nick Brotman and Ivan d’Argence at #1 8-2. The Gauchos tied the doubles score with an 8-5 win at #2 by senior Alex Anselme and freshman Anders Dalskov, but Pacific came up with the deciding win at #3 behind Alan Kelly and Robert Price.

“The doubles point was critical,” Davis said. “That has been our feeling all year; we just weren’t able to execute.”

Anselme took the first set from Sigurdsson at #1 singles, but Sigurdsson held on for his second victory of the season over Anselme 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Niclas Otte crushed d’Argence 6-2, 6-1 at #3, and Zdravkovic took the fourth set from sophomore Elad Stern 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-1 to give the Tigers the four points needed to win.

Gauchos Dalskov and Leo Basica were the only UCSB singles winners on the day.
Basica won 6-1, 6-4 at #5, while Dalskov edged Stephen Conching 6-4, 6-1 at #6.

“We had match point at #2 singles and set point in the first set of #4 singles, and went on the win the second set,” Davis said. “If you swing those two points around in favor of us, then we have a 4-2 victory and possibly the championship.”

Despite the loss in the semifinals, the Gauchos bounced back to defeat Cal Poly 4-1 in the third third-place match.

UCSB won at #2 and #3 doubles to earn the doubles point. John Nguyen routed Anselme 6-1, 6-0 in the final match of his career. D’Argence won 6-2, 6-2 at #3 singles, Stern 6-4, 6-4 at #4, and Dalskov 6-3, 6-4 at #6 to close out the Mustangs.

“The seniors got a little of the bad taste out of their mouth with the win,” Davis said. “But it was a consolation match. I’m not satisfied with third place and I don’t think any of the guys are.”

In order to reach the semifinals the Gauchos had to defeat Utah State on Friday, which they managed easily in a 4-0 sweep.

UCSB swept the Aggies in the three doubles matches and won at #3-5 singles behind Stern, Basica and Dalskov. The momentum generated from the sweep and the three wins heading into the Big West Tournament were not enough to get the Gauchos past Pacific.

“We learned a lot during the season,” Davis said. “We started slow but improved and put ourselves in a position to win the championship. We have a lot of the team coming back next season.”

Pacific fell to Irvine in the championship match on Sunday. Irvine, the #1 seed, won its first Big West Championship since 1993.