The #60 UCSB men’s tennis team heads to Oregon this weekend to take on the Ducks as well as the University of New Mexico. So far this season, the Gauchos have lost against three ranked teams, including #2 Texas. For Head Coach Marty Davis, playing a team ranked lower than his will not necessarily make for an easy match.
“We still expect a really tough match, even though it might not look like it on paper,” Davis said. “Oregon is moving into the national rankings and we lost to them last time we played at their place.”
Coming off of three straight losses to open the season, the Gauchos will look to gain back some of the swagger that comes with three straight Big West Conference championships.
“I think the mindset is a little different,” junior Scott Hohenstein said. “It’s a good feeling knowing we’ve played the tough teams and now we’re going against a team we’re supposed to win against.”
Even though UCSB did not come away with any wins, Coach Davis still stresses the usefulness of playing tough opponents.
“If you can stay positive, you can improve quickest when you’re playing against good competition,” Davis said. “This weekend should offer some good opportunities to win and get better.”
That competition will come indoors for the first time this season, despite the misleading name of last weekends NCAA National Indoor tournament. With that knowledge, the team has been focusing this week on how to take advantage of the lack of wind and other weather conditions.
“Indoors, without the elements, it’s easier to serve well, so we’re hoping to take advantage of that,” Davis said. “On the other hand we need to practice returning good serves too. So we’re definitely focusing on starting points.”
UCSB will look to juniors Josh Finkelstein and Scott Hohenstein, as well as sophomore Taylor Chavez Goggin, whose big serving is suited well for the indoor match. The Gauchos also boast Phil Therp and Alex Konigsfeldt, who grew up in Denmark, where half of the year’s tennis is played indoors.
“With players like those, we’re probably a better indoor team than we’ve been in past years,” Davis said.
After this weekend, the Gauchos have their first conference match on Feb. 14 against UC Davis before their home opener against UC Irvine the following weekend.