The injury-ravaged UCSB men’s tennis team tried to find a rhythm when it traveled north over the weekend, but its tough stretch continued and the Gauchos lost two of their three matches.
Playing without three of their starters due to injury, UCSB (2-6 overall) did not have what it took to defeat #29 California (4-4) Saturday, losing its fourth straight match, but the team rebounded with a 5-2 win over Davis (0-8) on Sunday. UCSB did not get to enjoy a President’s Day break, as it was in action against #73 Santa Clara (8-4) Monday, dropping the match 1-6 and ending the weekend with a 2-6 record on the season.
Santa Barbara has been hit hard with injuries recently, with two of its starting singles players out for the season. Last week it was revealed that senior Elad Stern will miss the remainder of the season with a torn rotator cuff, while freshman Philip Therp, who has played well for UCSB at the number three position, will also likely miss the rest of the season due to a broken wrist. The Gauchos have also been without the services of junior Jack Hui, the number two singles player, due to a sprained wrist.
On Saturday the Gauchos traveled to Berkeley where they faced California. UCSB struggled throughout the day; the lone bright spot came in doubles play with the tandem of freshman Josh Finkelstein and sophomore Nigel Barton. The duo defeated California’s team of freshman Kallim Stewart and sophomore Carsten Thorstensen, a transfer from UCSB, 8-6. Despite the #3 doubles win, the Bears took the other two doubles matches and swept through singles play without dropping a set to win the match 7-0.
“Doubles is going really well; Nigel and I are starting to figure out what it takes,” Finkelstein said. “Winning against Cal in doubles was a really good experience for us.”
UCSB hoped to get back into the win column when it took on winless Davis on Sunday. The parings of Barton and Finkelstein and sophomores Bijan Hejazi and Max Taylor secured the doubles point for the Gauchos, with wins on courts two and three, respectively. Santa Barbara also stepped up its game in singles, with Taylor winning his match in straight sets 6-3, 6-4. Hejazi, Finkelstein and Barton all earned victories in three sets, giving the Gauchos a 5-2 win and an end to their four-match losing streak.
“Obviously we were happy to get a win over Davis,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “We won three three-set matches, which is good for our guys to get that kind of experience in close matches.”
The Gauchos concluded their run of five straight games on the road with a match against Santa Clara on Monday. Despite an 8-3 win from junior Anders Dalskov and sophomore Grant Robertson at #1 doubles, the Broncos took the doubles point 2-1. Santa Clara defeated UCSB quite handily in singles, although the number one match featuring Hejazi and Bronco senior Jan Macek was close, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5. The Gauchos’ lone singles win was earned by Dalskov, who played in the number two spot and defeated SCU’s Brian Brogan 6-3, 6-4.
“Overall, I think our young guys are getting good experience for when we start our conference season next week at home against Cal Poly,” Davis said.