The #73 UCSB men’s tennis team will play three tough matches this weekend, including a clash with #18 Boise State in today’s home opener.
After starting the season on the road last weekend with a close 4-3 loss to #57 Arizona State and a 5-2 victory over South Florida, the Gauchos (1-1 overall) will play three matches in three days, beginning with today’s home match against Boise State (6-0). UCSB will then travel to Eugene, Ore., where they will face Portland (2-2) Saturday and Oregon (5-1) Sunday.
“We’re looking ahead to this match [against Boise State] with great enthusiasm,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “Boise State is by far the best team to risk coming to Santa Barbara to play on our court in a decade – they’re legitimate NCAA title contenders and we’re excited because it’s the best team we’ve faced in some time.”
Today’s home crowd will watch as Santa Barbara attempts to upset the Broncos, which will not be an easy task. Boise State is currently undefeated this season, and has recorded wins over #27 Stanford, #48 San Diego and #49 San Diego State. The Broncos are led by junior Luke Shields, who ranks 15th in the nation in singles. This will be the second straight week in which the Gauchos face an opponent ranked ahead of them after narrowly losing to Arizona State last Friday in their season debut.
“I thought they fought really hard,” Davis said. “That was a tough way to start the season on the road against a very good Arizona State team, and if we had a match or two under our belt, I think we could have maybe pulled off the upset.”
Several UCSB players opened the season with back-to-back singles wins. Junior Anders Dalskov was tested in two close matches, defeating Arizona State’s TJ Bellama in three sets 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-1, and South Florida’s Thomas Estrada 7-6, 7-6. Freshman Philip Therp was impressive over the weekend, winning his first two matches as a Gaucho playing in the third spot in the lineup. Sophomore Max Taylor was also undefeated at the number six spot and will move ahead in the lineup this weekend because of an injury to senior Elad Stern.
After today’s match against Boise State, the Gauchos will travel to play two matches in Oregon. The travel could wear on Santa Barbara though, as the team will travel to Eugene on Saturday – the same day as their evening match against Portland. The Gauchos will return to action the next morning when they play Oregon, a team they defeated last season.
“It’s really tough because Saturday we’re attempting to fly to Eugene and play on the same day,” Davis said. “It’s a huge challenge; we’ve tried that before and we’ve lost.”
Today’s match against Boise State gets underway at 1:30 p.m. on the Rec Cen Courts.