For its fourth year in a row, the UC Santa Barbara men’s tennis team swept through their Big West competitors, finishing number one in conference rankings with a spotless 5-0 record.
The Gauchos (14-6 overall) closed out their undefeated conference season first with an at-home 4-0 win against Cal Poly and then with a 6-1 defeat over University of Hawai’i. Hawai’i, now 1-4 in conference and 7-12 overall, fills the last place spot in Big West rankings, while Cal Poly (4-1 in conference) sits below SB.
From Sunday’s start, the Gauchos seemed to control the match. No. 1 duo Nicolas Moreno de Alboran and Anders Holm immediately took down Hawaii’s arguably best pairing, Andre Ilagan and Lucas Labrunie. Despite having seen the most court time as a team throughout the season — and maintaining a 7-6 overall record— the inexperienced doubles found it difficult to compete with their nationally-ranked Santa Barbara counterparts.
Consequently, Moreno de Alboran and Holm will head into Big West Championships with six straight wins behind them. Their latest victory boosted their overall record to 12-8 and their dual record to 9-6.
Equally as competitive as this duo, however, are their fellow teammates Joseph Guillin and Victor Krustev. Though as a pair they have played five fewer matches than the former (12-3 overall), the SB doubles team has seen tremendous success in dual matches.
The junior-sophomore team defeated University of Hawaii’s Blaz Seric and Simão Telo Alves 6-2, ending their season with a 10-1 mark — the most impressive dual match record seen in the Gaucho roster. Guillin and Krustev’s latest four wins from Big West play have helped to maintain their team’s ongoing success throughout the season.
The Rainbow Warriors’ Seric and Telo Alves, on the other hand, have not seen such success lately. The doubles team played in only two matches during conference season and lost both.
The UC Santa Barbara lineup dominated singles rounds as well, picking up wins in five of its six matchups versus Hawaii. Over the five Big West games, the singles players have accumulated a combined 17 wins and only three losses.
Gaucho freshman Luka Vukmanovic made his NCAA dual-match debut against Hawaii’s Asad Siyyid. The freshman’s fight looked promising after he forced Siyyid into three sets after claiming a 6-4 win on the second. Ultimately, however, Vukmanovic lost and marked the single defeat of the day.
Head Coach Marty Davis sent his top player, No. 15 Moreno de Alboran, to meet Hawaii’s freshman standout, Andre Ilagan. The senior beat Ilagan 6-0, 6-3 and consequently finished his singles season losing only one of 12 matches.
Prior to Big West, Ilagan’s impressive record (11-4) reflected his even more impressive performance, especially for being new to NCAA. However, his three-time appearance in conference has resulted in an 0-3 record, as he is now faced with seasoned competitors like Moreno de Alboran and Cal Poly’s senior Josh Ortlip.
Senior Hironori Koyanagi, sophomore Krusetv, junior Guillin and redshirt-sophomore Joseph Rotheram all dominated across the courts, each clinching wins against their respective opponents for Santa Barbara.
The next step? The Gauchos will head to the Indian Wells Court to compete in the Big West Championships; here, the team will fight for its fifth consecutive tournament title. The team is simultaneously looking into its potential to place into this year’s NCAA tournament. The upcoming championships, however, should remain the biggest priority as the Santa Barbara faces a TBD opponent in the semi-finals on Friday, April 26.