The #58 UCSB men’s tennis team (15-10) barely lost the doubles point against #22 Stanford on Saturday afternoon at Pepperdine, a point that gave the Cardinal a 1-0 lead that allowed them to cruise to a 4-0 victory over the Gauchos in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“Had UCSB pulled out the doubles point, the energy would have been amazing,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “Who knows how things would have gone from there.”
In doubles, Stanford took an early lead on the third court after beating Gaucho seniors Jack Hui and Anders Dalskov 8-4. However, the matches on the first and second court went down to the wire. At one point, Gaucho sophomore team captain Josh Finkelstein and his freshman partner Alexander Konigsfeldt were tied 7-7, while sophomore Philip Therp and junior Bijan Hejazi held a 5-3 lead in the tiebreaker on the first court. While Konigsfeldt’s serves at 7-7 pushed his team up 40-0, Hijazi missed a service return on the first court to make the tiebreaker score 5-4. Then Therp’s ace was called out, causing a stream of muttering from the UCSB fans in attendance. Stanford returned Therp’s second serve and Therp missed at the net, tying the match 5-5.
Therp missed another shot to put Stanford ahead by one, but he tied the score up again after hitting a bullet just over the net between the two Stanford opponents. With the Gauchos up 8-7 on the second court, Hejazi double-faulted on the first court, giving Stanford the 7-6 tiebreaker lead. Then Therp missed a shot at the net, allowing Stanford to take the doubles point and head into the singles matches with the momentum in its favor. The second match was abandoned with the Gauchos still in the lead.
Stanford boasts three ranked singles players in its lineup, including #7 freshman Alex Clayton. Therp played Clayton in the first singles spot, but Therp’s unforced errors and Clayton’s many baseline winners proved to be too much for Therp to overcome in his 6-1, 6-4 loss.
“He played a lot faster [then I’m used to playing],” Therp said. “And he served a lot better. I had to get used to it; I played better in the second because I got used to the higher tempo.”
Stanford took the first set on every singles court. With Hejazi up 5-4 in the second set against #80 Matt Bruch and Hui up 5-3 against #124 Richard Wire, play was halted after Konigsfeldt’s 6-3, 6-1 loss in the fourth slot to Stanford’s Blake Muller.
Stanford lost to #13 Pepperdine 4-2 on Sunday. Pepperdine will now move on to the Sweet 16 in Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 16.