There were some big hits and near misses for the UCSB men’s tennis team when it hosted three tough matches over the weekend.
The Gauchos (4-16 overall, 2-2 in the Big West) narrowly missed out on upsetting #56 Denver on Friday, losing the match 4-3. Saturday, Santa Barbara played an important conference match against UC Irvine, with Irvine taking the match 4-3 despite a gutsy UCSB effort. The Gauchos rebounded in a big way when they faced UC Riverside Sunday, dominating the Highlanders 7-0 and earning a first round bye in the Big West Championships.
UCSB got off to a rocky start in its match against Denver; the Pioneers (12-6) gained the early advantage by winning the doubles point, taking two of the three matches. This doubles point win ultimately lead to Denver’s victory in the match, as the teams split the six singles matches, with the Gauchos getting wins from junior Anders Dalskov, freshman Philip Therp and sophomore Grant Robertson.
UCSB faced another difficult opponent in Irvine (10-10, 3-1 Big West), one of the top teams in the Big West. Although Dalskov and Robertson won 8-5 at number two doubles, the Anteaters won the other two doubles matches to claim a 1-0 lead. Irvine pushed the lead to 3-0 as singles got underway with a 7-5, 6-1 win by senior Aaron Yovan on court one and a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 edging by sophomore Trevor Dobson on court four. Freshman Josh Finkelstein put the Gauchos on the board with a victory on court five, defeating Irvine sophomore Shimpei Suzuki in three sets, 6-2, 1-6, 7-5.
“This was our biggest match of the season and I really wanted to get a win,” Finkelstein said.
Irvine clinched the match with a narrow win over Therp on court four. The match came down to a competitive third set, and while Therp made some spectacular shots to fight off match point, Anteater senior Mustafa Ulukan was able to regain control and take the match 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. With Dalskov and Robertson still playing competitive matches, Irvine elected to rest its players and end the match with a score of 4-3.
Santa Barbara looked to rebound from the disappointing Irvine loss while facing the Riverside Highlanders (9-11, 1-3 Big West) Sunday afternoon. The Gauchos dominated the match from start to finish, as they began the day by sweeping the doubles point and taking a 1-0 lead. It did not take long for UCSB to clinch the match in singles; Finkelstein, Therp, and junior Jack Hui eased through their matches to push the lead to 4-0. The Gauchos earned a sweep over the Highlanders with Robertson and Dalskov both earning straight set wins and sophomore Bijan Hejazi claiming a 6-7, 6-3 (10-8) victory on court one. The win earns UCSB the third seed in the upcoming Big West Championships.
“Today helped a lot,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “Everybody got a win today, so today should give everyone’s confidence a big lift and we desperately needed that.”