Heading into the Big West Tournament, UCSB will anxiously await this week’s national rankings after a split of its weekend road trip.
The #65 Gauchos (13-8 overall) won four singles sets on Friday to beat #64 Utah 4-3 on the home team’s Senior Day. Junior Max Taylor, the last Gaucho still playing, clinched the victory for UCSB after coming back from a match point 5-4 deficit.
“Max really hung in there,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “It was a big win for him, and for us.”
On Saturday, however, the Gauchos were manhandled by unranked BYU in a 6-1 loss. BYU swept the doubles point and won five out of the six singles matches in only two sets. Sophomore Philip Therp provided UCSB with its only point in a 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory.
The match against Utah was UCSB’s third win against a ranked opponent this season, and the third time that the Gauchos won without taking the doubles point. Of the team’s eight losses, only three have been against unranked teams.
The Gauchos head into the Big West Tournament tied for first in the conference with #66 UC Irvine, which secured a 4-1 conference record after beating Cal Poly 4-3 on Saturday. Since the Gauchos beat the Anteaters 5-2 on March 8, they earned the top seed and a first round bye in the tournament. Cal Poly finishes the season 3-2 with the third seed in the conference. Had the Mustangs beaten Irvine this weekend, their victory against UCSB on March 2 would have forced UCSB into the second seed and given the Mustangs the top spot and the first round bye in the tournament.
The Big West Championships begin on April 24 in Indian Wells. The winner of the tournament secures a bid to the NCAA tournament in May.