Following a bye and a subsequent 4-0 sweep over UC Davis in the semifinal game, the Santa Barbara men’s tennis team now heads confidently into their fifth consecutive battle for the Big West Championship.
The Gauchos remain once again undefeated in conference and playoffs (15-6, 6-0), riding a five-game win streak. UC Davis ended their season fifth in conference with a 12-11 overall and 1-5 record in league.
Killer duo Joseph Guillin and Victor Krustev locked in their tenth victory together versus one of Davis’s most threatening pairings: freshman Alex Scemanenco and sophomore Daniel Landa (10-7 overall).
Nicolas Moreno De Alboran and Anders Holm solidified the Gauchos’ first point in the subsequent doubles match. The seniors took out No. 70 duo David Goulak and Ivan Thamma 6-4, serving them only their fifth loss of the entire season.
Goulak and Thamma were Davis’s leading competitors and only its second nationally-ranked doubles team in program history.
Moreno de Alboran faced Goulak one on one later in the match. Ranked 16th in the nation, the Santa Barbara senior shut down his opponent with ease. He clinched the win in just two sets first 6-0, then 6-2. Though his season is far from over— with a promising NCAA Regional run approaching—the Gaucho has left an undeniable imprint on the men’s tennis team.
Daniel Landa put up the Aggie’s lone first set win in a singles match against sophomore Joseph Rotheram. Rotheram followed the initial defeat with two wins, and another point was tallied for Santa Barbara.
In his last and second year playing for the Gauchos, senior Hironori Koyanagi went out with another dual singles win versus UC Davis’s Chethan Swanson. His 4-time appearance in conference has resulted in a spotless 4-0 record. The last three of these dual matches have been two-set sweeps on the No. 4 court.
This season UC Santa Barbara has demonstrated a skillful command over their opponents, especially in conference (though nothing seems surprising about that). The upcoming championship game has no reason to faze their success.
This will be the fourth year in a row that the Gauchos battle Cal Poly for the Big West title. Since their 2015/16 season, Santa Barbara has delivered 4-1, 4-1, and 4-0 wins over the Mustang program.
Cal Poly (14-9, 4-1) sits just below SB, seeded second in Big West following a singular dual match defeat at the hands of Santa Barbara itself. In the two lineups’ latest matchup, the Gauchos steadily took out the Mustangs 4-0.
UC Santa Barbara will have to look out once again for Cal Poly’s Josh Ortlip. Though the senior previously fell to Holm and Moreno de Alboran in doubles and singles matches, his current performances have made him the most winning member of the team. Ortlip is coming off of a 6-3 doubles win with partner Dominic Bechard at No. 1 court from their tournament semifinal win.
It was junior Antoine Noel, however, that launched Cal Poly into the tournament championship. Against UC Irvine the junior clinched the teams’ redeeming 4-2 win, solidifying his already-impressive record at 13-4.
The last time Noel faced Santa Barbara he left an unfinished match on the No. 2 court against Joseph Guillon. A victory over the nationally ranked Gaucho would be tough to achieve, but there is no doubt Noel, with momentum on his side, will be eager to start to the fight.
Santa Barbara plays Cal Poly today at 9am in Palm Springs for the Big West Tournament championship.