The UCSB men’s tennis team finally gets to stay in Santa Barbara this Friday, where they will take on Utah in what should be a thrilling match between two nationally ranked teams. UCSB goes into the match ranked #58, with Utah not far behind at #67. For Head Coach Marty Davis, the team is going to need to give everything it has to pull out a win.
“We’re going to need a team effort to beat Utah,” Davis said. “They bring some big serves and aggressive net play, so they’re going to be strong in the doubles, plus they’ve got some big hitters.”
To combat those big serves, the Gauchos are working on keeping the ball in play to try and outlast the Utes in the longer points.
“We’ve been playing a lot of long match points in practice,” sophomore Alex Konigsfeldt said. “And trying to work on keeping the ball going for those longer points.”
Junior Scott Hohenstein agreed.
“They’re used to playing indoors, so they’re used to the shorter points,” Hohenstein said. “So we’re all going to try to be super consistent. If we keep balls in play it should irritate them, so we just need to try to take advantage.”
For UCSB, this will be their first home match after three consecutive matches on the road. Konigsfeldt is certainly looking forward to the home courts and the advantage that they bring.
“We’ve been on the road for the last three weeks, so it feels good to be back and play on our own courts,” Konigsfeldt said. “We’ve been playing a lot of indoor matches lately, so I think we’re all looking forward to the home court advantage with playing outside.”
Last year against Utah, the Gauchos barely took home the win, scraping by in a 4-3 victory that came down to the final match of the day. This weekend will likely be close as well, so the importance of the doubles point will be magnified even more.
“It’s going to be really close I think,” junior Josh Finkelstein said. “It was close against them last year, and they have pretty much the same team, so it should be just as close. That makes the doubles point really important, because in close matches it becomes really big. If we just come out with a lot of energy, though, we should win the match.”
“We expect to win,” Konigsfeldt said. “We go into every match to win, but it’s going to be tough.”
The Gauchos and the Utes throw down this Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the Rec Cen courts, where there will be free pizza for anyone in attendance.