The #75 UCSB men’s tennis team came out flat Sunday, losing their first home match of the season 5-2 to Georgia State.
After two weeks off, the Gauchos (5-6 overall) lost the doubles point and four out of six singles matches en route to the loss. UCSB was short-handed in defeat, as #1 option senior Nick Brotman had the flu and did not play. This was the Gauchos’ last match before conference play, which starts Wednesday at Cal Poly.
With Brotman out, Head Coach Marty Davis had to juggle the doubles and singles lineups to make up for his absence. At #1 doubles, where Brotman usually plays with sophomore Anders Dalskov, freshmen Carsten Thorstensen and Scott Hohenstein won their match 8-5. The two other doubles tandems failed to win their matches, however, and Georgia State took the doubles point for a 1-0 lead.
In singles play, everyone moved up a spot in the lineup, including junior Elad Stern, who played on center court in the #1 spot. Georgia State junior Martin Stiegwardt proved to be too much for Stern, prevailing 6-2, 6-4.
“There’s always a few points that if you get, [the match] would have been different, I had a few of those,” Stern said. “It wasn’t enough this time, hopefully it will be enough next time.”
Making his way into the singles lineup for the second time this year was Hohenstein, who played in the six-spot for the Gauchos. After dropping the first set, Hohenstein battled back to win the second, but his comeback effort fell short in the third, losing the match 6-4, 6-7, 6-1. His doubles partner Thorstensen was one of the few bright spots on the day for UCSB snagging a 7-6, 6-2 win.
“In singles everybody played reasonably well – it’s always a little scary moving up a spot,” Davis said. “I wasn’t disappointed with the fight on the court. I was more disappointed with the practices leading up to the match.”
Elsewhere in singles freshmen Max Taylor and Bijan Hejazi dropped their matches 6-3, 6-4 and 7-6, 6-4 (10-6). Dalskov put another point on the board for the Gauchos as he was a 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 winner to make the final score 5-2 in favor of the Panthers.
“I think the guys will regroup – they understand that they didn’t have the intensity required, so these next few days we’ll have some very intense, focused practices,” Davis said.
In the long run, the loss may turn out to be a wakeup call for the Gauchos as they head into conference play in San Luis Obispo on Wednesday. The Gauchos will likely see their largest crowd of the season, and keeping their composure under pressure will be key. With the freshmen on the team already having played in several close matches on the road, experience may start to work in Santa Barbara’s favor.
“This is it, we’re in the second half,” Davis said. “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish, so we’re going to try to have a strong second half.”