It came a week later than originally planned, but the #70 UCSB men’s tennis team finally made its debut over the weekend in Arizona.
After rain drowned out their scheduled season opener last weekend against #73 BYU, the Gauchos played their first two matches over the weekend, losing a close match to #57 Arizona State 4-3, and rebounded with a 5-2 defeat of South Florida in Arizona. All things considered, it was a quality, although belated debut for Santa Barbara.
“It was definitely tougher to start against ASU,” junior Anders Dalskov said. “It was a very close match and we didn’t really get the practice in that we needed, but we did pretty well considering we didn’t play those other matches.”
Friday afternoon UCSB squared off against ASU in a rematch of a hard-fought matchup last season that the Sun Devils narrowly won 4-3. The match got underway with doubles play, where the Gauchos will likely be doing some juggling in the lineup for the first part of their season. Dalskov, a First Team All-Big West doubles player last season, and junior Jack Hui played in the #1 spot and lost 8-5. At #2 doubles were sophomores Nigel Barton and Bijan Hejazi, who also fell to their opponents 8-4. The Sun Devils swept the doubles matches with an 8-5 win on court three over UCSB freshmen Philip Therp and Josh Finkelstein, and in doing so took a 1-0 lead.
The Gauchos fared much better in singles as they split the six matches. In #1 singles, Hejazi lost to ASU junior Juan Carlos Rebaza in three sets, 4-6, 6-4 and 2-6. Hui also dropped a three-set match at #2 singles, 1-6, 6-2 and 4-6. Therp performed impressively for UCSB in the third spot with a 6-1, 6-1 domination of Sun Devil sophomore Wes Miller. Santa Barbara was solid at the back of the lineup, with wins on courts five and six. At five, Dalskov defeated ASU sophomore T.J. Bellama 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-1 and on court six, sophomore Max Taylor rallied from a 1-6 first set to claim the match 1-6, 6-4 and 7-5. In addition, senior Elad Stern played in the fourth position and lost 1-6, 2-6. With three singles wins and the doubles point, Arizona State edged out with the 4-3 victory.
“The matches we’re going to play late in the season for the Big West championship are going to be close, so the experience in close matches will help us,” Dalskov said. “You learn more from a 4-3 match than a 7-0 match.”
On Sunday, the Gauchos took on South Florida, which had also lost to Arizona State over the weekend. UCSB played much better in doubles, sweeping the three matches including an 8-6 win at #1 from Dalskov and Hui. In singles, newcomers Hui and Therp played well in their second matches as Gauchos, with wins on courts two and three, 6-4, 6-3 and 6-3, 7-6, respectively. Santa Barbara only lost two singles matches day, winning the match 5-2.