It was a long time coming, but the #75 UCSB men’s tennis team finally claimed victory over a Pac-10 team, as it defeated Oregon 4-2 on Saturday.
It had been eight long years, a drought which includes the entire seven-year tenure of Head Coach Marty Davis, since UCSB had defeated a Pac-10 school, and after four hard-fought losses against Pac-10 squads this season, the Gauchos finally broke through with a victory over Oregon – which came into the match tied with Santa Barbara for the #75 spot in the national rankings. The win also allowed the Gauchos to remain undefeated at home, where they are now 5-0 on the season.
“We’re really confident at home,” Davis said. “We’re undefeated here and have had some big wins, so that’s good for us as we get into our conference season pretty soon.”
Since rain was forecasted for Saturday afternoon, the teams agreed to play the singles matches first. The Gauchos had it going early, taking the first set in five of the six matches. Sophomore Anders Dalskov, who has excelled for UCSB at the #4 spot, was the first to get a win for the Gauchos, as he eased to a 6-2, 7-5 victory. Freshman Bijan Hejazi put Santa Barbara up 2-0 as he defeated his opponent 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 at the #3 spot. The Ducks then got on the board as Oregon senior Markus Schiller picked up a close 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over #2 junior Elad Stern.
Senior Nick Brotman has been a tough competitor match after match for the Gauchos at the #1 spot, where he constantly faces the opposing team’s top netter in singles. Brotman endured some excruciatingly close matches on UCSB’s recent 0-4 road slide. Brotman displayed his trademark resiliency Saturday after losing control in the second set, easing through the third to win the match 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.
“On the road you can get discouraged so it was great to get back home and get the win,” Brotman said. “The road toughened me up a little; this was pretty tough but I felt like I was in control of the match.”
A loss by freshman Max Taylor made the score 3-2 and put the clinching point on the shoulders of freshman Carsten Thorstensen. After winning the first set 6-3, Thorstensen found himself trailing 2-5 in the second set. Thorstensen demonstrated his resilience, battling back to take the set in exciting fashion, clinching the 4-2 victory for the Gauchos 6-3, 7-6.
“I knew I could beat him because I beat him [in the fall], so I knew that if I fought hard, I could win it,” Thorstensen said.
Even though the Gauchos had already notched the win with their success in singles play, the teams squared off for doubles. Soon after they began, play was called off as rain started to fall.
Now with a win over a Pac-10 team, as well as several other noteworthy non-conference wins over ranked teams under their belt, the Gauchos are looking like the top contender for the Big West title as conference play begins in nearly two weeks.
“In non-conference play we’ve played better than the other teams in the conference, so that should give us confidence,” Davis said. “We should feel like we’re the best team in the conference but now we’ve got to prove it.”
UCSB is not back in action until March 5 when they host Georgia State at the Rec Cen tennis courts.