The UCSB men’s tennis team lost a heartbreaker yesterday afternoon against St. John’s University 4-3. The team was match point away from victory in a single match that would have swayed the outcome from a loss to a win.
The loss drops the Gauchos’ record to 3-8 and the win for the Red Storm extends their record to 4-3.
It all came down to the last two matches. UCSB was losing 3-2 and needed victories from both freshman Erik Johnsson and junior Ziad Sultan. Johnsson won the first set 6-4 against his opponent, sophomore Vaidik Munshaw, and looked to be on his way to triumph. He had a match point in the second set but lost it and ultimately ceded the set 7-6 in a tiebreak. The third set went Munshaw’s way from the beginning as he won the first five games and after some fight back from Johnsson, took the set to end the match 6-3.
All of this happened as Sultan was battling his opponent, sophomore R.J. Del Nunzio. Sultan lost the first set handily 1-6, but took the second 6-4. The third set went on serve with both players getting a single break against the other’s serve, and the match went to a tiebreak in the third set. Sultan went down 4-1 but battled back to win 7-6 to end the match minutes after Johnsson’s loss ended the Gauchos’ chances for the overall match victory.
“We were behind 3-1 and it actually looked pretty good because we were at a stage there where Erik [Johnsson] was up a set and 5-3 in the tiebreak at about the same time [Ziad] was holding serve in split sets and it looked like he had some momentum,” Head Coach Marty Davis said. “Then Miles [Seemann] finishes on court six so at that moment its 3-2 and we are a couple points from winning [Johnsson’s] match and it looked like [Ziad] would turn this one over, so that was the moment where it looked good and then it kind of all went to hell.”
Sultan’s win was much needed after he lost six straight singles matches. He has been bumped down to No. 2 singles as junior Tobias Galskov has been unstoppable as of late, winning now four straight matches as he defeated junior Erick Reyes 6-0, 6-2.
“[Ziad] needed that one. He needs to play more aggressive, more assertive tennis. That was clearly the case today,” Davis said. “[Ziad] has been getting away from the game style he needs to play so hopefully today was a big positive reinforcement. He has to play big, aggressive, dominating tennis. That’s just the way he has to play … that was good, hopefully that was a bit of a break through win for him.”
The Gauchos were disappointed to have lost the doubles point again today. The Gauchos got a win from top doubles pair Galskov and Sultan over Munshaw and sophomore Lucas Hejhal. New doubles pair made up of Johnsson and sophomore Miles Seemann lost to Del Nunzio and Reyes 8-4, while freshman Teague Hamilton and sophomore Andrew Riminton lost to sophomore Michael-John Every and freshman Robert Livi 8-6.
“Once again we dropped the doubles point and that was pretty close too,” said Davis. “We saved six match points before going down 8-6, so we battled there but couldn’t get it done. Ultimately, it has been the doubles point that has been our Achilles heal all season and it got us again today.”
Seemann won his singles match in the No. 6 position, 6-1, 7-5 over Every, giving the Gauchos a chance at the victory, but it just wasn’t their day. Hamilton ended his run at three straight wins and undefeated at home with a loss against Livi and senior Sasha Gryaznov fell to Hejhal in the No. 3 singles spot 7-6, 6-2.
The Gauchos host two more home matches this weekend against Georgetown at 10 a.m. on Saturday, moved up an hour from its original scheduled time, and against Radford at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
A version of this article appeared on page 7 of March 6th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Margarita Baliyan of the Daily Nexus.