It was quite a Spring Break for the UCSB men’s tennis team, as it climbed the Big West standings with a 4-1 record on the week.
The Gauchos (11-6 overall, 3-0 in the Big West) continued their hot play of late, winning six of their last seven matches. With the Big West Championships coming up at the end of the month, UCSB is in prime shape to take the #1 seed as it has dominated conference play thus far, winning all three of their matches 7-0, 7-0 and 6-1.
“This week was awesome – we stayed undefeated in conference and that was our goal,” senior Nick Brotman said. “Our team has been looking good; everyone is playing tough.”
Last Saturday. the Gauchos rolled over #75 Dartmouth as they swept doubles play and won five out of six singles matches to take the match 6-1. The win was UCSB’s fourth over a ranked opponent. The Gauchos were led by Brotman at the #1 spot, who defeated his opponent 6-3, 6-3.
Brotman’s play earned him Big West Player of the Week honors and he continued his dominance throughout the week, going undefeated in both singles and doubles.
“Nick’s play has to be a highlight, it’s like everything in his game has come together,” UCSB Head Coach Marty Davis said.
Monday, the Gauchos defeated Santa Clara 5-2, again winning the doubles point and going 4-2 in singles. Sophomore Anders Dalskov clinched the win for UCSB 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 – his dual match record now stands at an impressive 14-3 on the season.
Santa Barbara suffered its only loss of the week on Thursday, losing 6-1 to #73 Harvard, with Brotman scoring the only win in singles for the Gauchos, 7-6, 6-2. The loss put an end to UCSB’s 4-game winning streak.
Saturday’s match against Pacific was one of the more important of the season for the Gauchos, as Pacific may be their toughest competition in the Big West. Even though two of Pacific’s top players sat out, UCSB still made a strong statement as it thoroughly dominated the depleted squad, sweeping both singles and doubles to win 7-0.
“Against Pacific, we were all really focused and were ready to beat them and take the #1 seed in the Big West,” Brotman said.
The Gauchos played their fourth match in five days against future conference foe, UC Davis, on Sunday. UCSB again swept through doubles, which has been an area of improvement for Santa Barbara this season. An extra emphasis on doubles in practice, as well as growing chemistry between players as they get comfortable with one another, contributed to that improvement.
“We’ve gotten closer as a team,” freshman Grant Robertson, who plays alongside junior Elad Stern, said. “Playing more and more together, we’ve gotten to know each other’s games well.”
After a slow start in singles, in which three Gauchos dropped the first set, UCSB regained control to cruise to a 6-1 victory. Brotman, Dalskov and freshman Bijan Hejazi dominated the second and third sets after dropping the first – Brotman 6-3, 6-1, Dalskov 6-0, 6-1, and Hejazi 6-1, 6-1.
“The most important thing [about this week] was that we had two convincing conference wins and that puts us in the driver’s seat in the Big West,” Davis said.