After winning six consecutive matches since March 8, the #64 UCSB men’s tennis team (9-5 overall) lost to #48 San Diego State (10-6 overall) 5-2 on Saturday afternoon at the Rec Cen courts. The loss was the Gauchos’ first at home. With seven more matches to play, the team already has one more victory than it had in all of last year’s 18-loss season.
“If we continue to play the way we’ve been playing and get wins against Boise [State] or Fresno [state], I think we’ll get an at-large bid for the NCAAs,” sophomore Josh Finkelstein said.
The Gauchos’ winning streak included a 5-2 victory over division rival #60 UC Irvine (8-9 overall) on March 8, a 4-3 thriller over #47 Harvard on March 25 and a 7-0 sweep over Santa Clara on March 27.
“[The win against Harvard gave] the guys a positive memory to draw upon the next time things get tight,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “It [provided] motivation to many of the guys who are just starting to realize how good they can be.”
With a few members of the starting squad unable to play against Santa Clara because of the flu, freshman Taylor Chavez-Goggin played in his first match of the season, winning 8-3 in doubles with Finklestein and 6-1, 6-0 against Santa Clara’s Justin Wong in the fifth singles spot. He also started in a three-set loss against San Diego State. Senior doubles specialist Nigel Barton also played in his first singles match of the season in the sixth spot against Santa Clara, winning 6-0,6-0.
“It was a great first performance for [Taylor],” Finkelstein said. “It was great seeing him out on the court.”
After the loss against San Diego State, the Gauchos dropped to 1-4 after losing the doubles point. The Gauchos are 8-1 after winning the doubles point, only losing to the University of Hawaii in their season opener after doing so.
Freshman Alexander Konigsfeldt holds the best singles record on the team at 9-4, followed by senior Jack Hui at 9-5 and Finkelstein and sophomore Philip Therp at 7-5 and 8-6, respectively. Therp was named the Big West Player of the Week on March 13.
Therp has now played four matches in the first singles spot. Junior Bijan Hejazi is 4-6 in the first singles spot and 1-2 in the second.
The Gauchos currently hold the best overall record in the Big West Conference, and continue their eight-game home stretch against #52 Fresno State (11-7 overall) on Friday at 1:30 p.m.