The UCSB men’s tennis team came up huge this weekend against conference opponent Pacific, defeating the Tigers 4-3. The unranked Gauchos went into the match needing conference victories if they were to achieve their fourth straight conference title, and they did just that. For junior captain Josh Finkelstein, the win could not have come at a better time.
“We played really well against Pacific, and we needed it,” Finkelstein said. “[Beating a ranked opponent] feels pretty good, and this one was even better because it was in conference, which could help give us a higher seeding in the tournament.”
Finkelstein has been one of the highlights of UCSB’s season so far, moving from the sixth spot to the third spot in singles, not to mention he is half of the #1 doubles team, along with sophomore Alex Konigsfeldt. He produced the team’s lone win in a 6-1 loss against Fresno State, which is ranked 39th in the nation. For Finkelstein, it came down to his serving skills and a little luck in his match.
“I served really well,” Finkelstein said. “[The Tigers] have really fast courts, which I usually do well on, but I also got lucky a little bit, too.”
The Gauchos are 6-10 overall and 3-1 in the Big West and need these wins to get the first or second seed when the conference tournament comes around in April. According to Head Coach Marty Davis, that higher seeding would mean a lot to his team.
“Beating Pacific on the road keeps us in the hunt to win the regular season title,” Davis said. “If we beat Cal Poly on Wednesday, we could still win the conference.”
That match is the last conference match of the season for the Gauchos, and it should prove to be an exciting one against their conference rivals. Coach Davis is looking to harness his team’s emotions to produce a win.
“We just need to compete,” Davis said. “Every match is going to be close and emotional, given our history with Cal Poly.”
Finkelstein agreed, putting his own spin on the team’s emotions heading in.
“No one likes Cal Poly,” Finkelstein said. “They are going to have a lot of energy coming out, so we are going to have to match that to win.”
UCSB takes on Cal Poly on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. before heading to San Diego this weekend to play San Diego State.