The UCSB men’s tennis team will take the home court for the final time this season when it hosts Sacramento State this weekend.
With the Big West Championships less than two weeks away, the Gauchos (4-17 overall, 2-2 in the Big West) host their regular season finale against the Hornets (17-5) on Saturday. UCSB will then focus its attention on defending its conference title as it travels to Indian Wells, Calif., for the Big West Championships; Santa Barbara clinched the third seed in the tournament last weekend with a win over Riverside (9-11, 1-3 Big West).
“We definitely needed this win,” Head Coach Marty Davis said after Sunday’s match. “It was a must-win for us and it now gives us the number three seed for the tournament which means we play [Irvine].”
The match against Riverside was the conclusion of a pivotal weekend in which the Gauchos played three tough home matches. Last Friday, Santa Barbara came close to upsetting #73 Denver (12-6) as the two teams split the six singles matches, but the Pioneers’ doubles point gave them the edge. Saturday, the Gauchos played their most pivotal match of the season against Irvine (10-10, 3-1 Big West), but fell to the Anteaters 4-3.
Sunday was an important day in the Big West Conference, as UCSB’s match against Riverside was not the only critical showdown. Irvine and Cal Poly (10-12, 4-0 Big West) also faced off in a match that would dictate the number one seed in the conference tournament. Cal Poly took the doubles point and the two teams split the six singles matches, giving the Mustangs the win and the number one seed.
The third seed was up for grabs when UCSB faced Riverside, yet the outcome was never in doubt as the Gauchos played their most complete match of the season, sweeping the Highlanders 7-0. In addition to securing a rematch with second-seeded Irvine, clinching the third seed also earned Santa Barbara a first round bye, which is helpful considering the current weather conditions in Indian Wells.
“[The first-round bye] definitely helps us,” Davis said. “The prospect of playing three matches in three days in that heat is very daunting.”
Before turning their attention to the Big West Championships, the Gauchos still have one more regular season match to focus on – Saturday’s match against Sacramento State. While the outcome of the match will not have any effect on UCSB’s postseason prospects, facing off against the Hornets will be a good preparation for Santa Barbara before heading to the second season. Sacramento State has won 13 of its last 15 matches and has secured the number one seed in the Big Sky Tournament.
Saturday’s final home match begins at 1 p.m. on the Recreation Center Tennis Courts.