The UCSB men’s tennis team begins its 10-match homestand this weekend with matches against No. 71 Nevada this afternoon and University of the Pacific on Sunday.
The Gauchos are currently on a four-match losing streak that they would like to see end this weekend. Following a 7-0 annihilation at No. 2 USC last Friday, the Gauchos lost a close match to Fresno State 4-3 on Sunday.
With a new lineup that featured junior Tobias Galskov playing in the No. 1 singles spot, the Gauchos were a few games away from stealing the match from the Bulldogs after going down 3-0. Galskov will be expected to lead the team this weekend as he impressed in his new role at the top of the lineup, winning his match over junior Sai Kartik Nakireddi 4-6, 6-2, 7-6.
The Gauchos also hope to improve in their doubles play, having lost the doubles point in six straight matches. In order to win upcoming matches, they will need to take the first point in the overall match and push the momentum in order to beat these top teams.
“We’re playing entertaining matches,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “They’re close; we’d like to be on the other side of a few more of them.”
As of Wednesday, Nevada had won its last four matches and is 5-2 overall, defeating Cal Poly, USF, Arizona and Grand Canyon. The team is led by junior Moaz Chargui in the top singles spot followed by senior Victor Ouvrard, sophomore Andrew Poustie and senior Quentin Mege. The top doubles pairs will consist of Echargui and Mege, Ouvrard and freshman Robert Allan and Poustie with junior Fernando Sunago.
“Nevada has a lot of international players, very steady, don’t make a lot of unforced errors and [they are] very good,” Davis said. “I expect it to be a very close match.”
Nevada played Pepperdine last night and will return home for a stretch of matches at its home court after playing UCSB.
On Sunday, Pacific will be coming into Santa Barbara looking for vengeance after the Gauchos knocked the Tigers out of the Big West Tournament last spring. Though no longer in the Big West Conference, the Tigers will be another tough test for UCSB.
The Tigers are 3-5 overall and won their last match over Sacramento State 7-0. They will be playing Cal Poly on Saturday before coming down the 101 to take on the Gauchos.
“We edged this team in the finals last year for the conference title,” Davis said. “They aren’t in our conference anymore but I’m sure they will all remember that. I’m sure they’ll be looking for some revenge.”
Pacific is led by its star sophomore Sem Verbeek. Verbeek was named Big West Conference Freshman of the Year in 2013. He also was named to the All-Big West First Team and earned All-Big West First Team for doubles with his partner Alex Golding, who has since graduated. Verbeek will be playing doubles this year with his new partner, freshman Miguel Diaz.
Following Verbeek in the lineup will be sophomore Daniel Alameh, junior Denis Stolyarov, Diaz, junior Ben Mirkin and junior Alex Hamilton.
The Gauchos look to end their losing ways starting today at 1:30 p.m. against Nevada and then take on Pacific at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Both matches will be played at the tennis courts behind the Recreational Center.
A version of this article appeared on page 7 of February 27, 2014’s print edition of The Daily Nexus.
Photo by Margarita Baliyan of The Daily Nexus.