The UCSB men’s tennis team continued its busy week Thursday with a road loss to #24 Pepperdine.
With only five healthy players able to compete, the Gauchos (2-9 overall, 0-1 in the Big West) dropped their fourth straight match to the defending NCAA champion Waves (8-6) 1-5. The schedule does not get any easier for Santa Barbara though, as it squares off against San Diego State and San Francisco State in back-to-back home matches this weekend.
“It would have been easy for the guys to be intimidated playing the defending champions on their home court with an injury-depleted squad,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “But they didn’t look scared and they competed well and stuck to their game plan, so I don’t think it was bad at all.”
Just two days after falling 1-6 to Georgia State at home, the Gauchos had to travel to Malibu to take on Pepperdine in a match that had been rescheduled from earlier this season because of rain. Santa Barbara showed some positive signs at number one doubles, as junior Anders Dalskov and sophomore Grant Robertson dominated the Waves’ number one doubles tandem, junior Andre Begemann and freshman Mahmoud Kamel, 8-1. Santa Barbara was unable to claim the other two matches as freshman Josh Finkelstein and sophomore Nigel Barton fell 8-3 and sophomores Bijan Hejazi and Max Taylor dropped their match at number three 8-2, giving Pepperdine a 1-0 advantage.
On court one, Hejazi squared off against Begemann, the nation’s 24th-ranked singles player. After dropping the first set 6-0, Hejazi was much more competitive in the second set, but Begemann proved to be too much, taking the match 6-0, 6-4. The Waves clinched the match with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Taylor on court four that gave them a 4-0 lead.
In Tuesday’s 1-6 loss to Georgia State, the Gauchos got their lone point on the day from Barton, who won his singles match at number five, 7-5, 7-6, 10-4. Thursday Barton again proved to be a standout for Santa Barbara as he earned its only victory, defeating Pepperdine junior Oliver Hyams, 7-5, 6-2. Pepperdine claimed the 5-1 victory with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Finkelstein on court three and a 6-4, 6-2 defeat of Dalskov at number two.
The Gauchos will return to action on Saturday when they face San Diego State at home at 1 p.m. The Aztecs (3-5) are in the midst of a stretch in which they have lost five of their last six matches. Sunday, UCSB will be on the court once again as it goes heard-to-head with San Francisco at 11 a.m. The Dons (5-4) are currently unranked, but recently occupied the #75 spot in the national rankings.
“I did see some positive signs, I think that we’re on the right track,” Davis said. “The guys are on a really steep learning curve and I think that they’re starting to get it.”