The road woes continue for the #72 UCSB men’s tennis team, as it dropped another pair of difficult road matches over the weekend.
After losing back-to-back 4-3 matches against #57 Arizona and #56 Arizona State last weekend, the Gauchos (4-5 overall) lost another close 4-3 match on a neutral site in Seattle against #75 Denver, then faced more than they could handle against #14 Washington, losing 7-0 and marking their fifth-straight road loss.
The doubles point was once again elusive for the Gauchos on Saturday, as they lost all three matches to face a 0-1 deficit early on. It was UCSB’s 6th straight loss in doubles.
“The continuing challenge for us is the doubles point,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “The doubles lineups are kind of coming together, as they play together more than these teams are going to gel.”
In singles, Denver’s Adam Holmstrom, ranked #28 in the nation, defeated senior Nick Brotman in the #1 spot, 6-2,6-2. In #2 singles, junior Elad Stern rallied after dropping the first set to win his match 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Sophomore Anders Dalskov and freshman Max Taylor won their matches 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 and 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), respectively. The match came down to the #5 spot, as Denver senior Steve Flaks defeated freshman Carsten Thorstensen in three sets, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6 to seal the 4-3 win for the Pioneers.
To say the schedule did not get any easier for the Gauchos would be an understatement, as they had to follow up Saturday’s loss with a showdown with Washington, the toughest opponent UCSB will face all season in terms of national ranking. The Huskies, who defeated Denver 7-0 on Friday night, have been a dominant team so far this season, sporting a 5-0 record – their closest match being a 5-2 win over Minnesota.
Once again the Gauchos lost the doubles point, but the #2 doubles tandem of Thorstensen and fellow freshman Scott Hohenstein was impressive, winning their match 8-4. Washington showed why they are such a force nationally in singles, winning all but one match in straight sets. The #1 singles match was the only match that went three sets, as Washington junior Alex Slovic, ranked #32, defeated Brotman 6-0, 3-6, 6-0.
“Washington was just too good for us but overall we’re still feeling pretty good about ourselves,” Davis said.
With the exception of a 1-6 loss at the hands of USC and the 0-7 loss to Washington, the Gauchos have been excruciatingly close in all the road matches they played – impressive considering all the opponents they faced have been ranked. Playing the tough teams in close matches this early on in the season will surely be a good experience as the season progresses.
“We’ve learned a lot on the road thus far, so now it’s time to start applying what we’ve learned,” Davis said.
The Gauchos put their four home-game winning streak on the line next weekend as they have one more opportunity to knock off a Pac-10 opponent this season, facing #75 Oregon at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Rec Cen tennis courts.
“We really feel like the Oregon match is important for us,” Davis said. “We feel like if we beat them we have a very good chance of going undefeated at home.”