After capturing only two wins over the course of six-straight away matches, the idea of returning home seemed like a promising disruption for the UC Santa Barbara men’s tennis, especially when remembering last year’s outstanding 9-1 home record. However, the team let yet another match slip, this time falling 4-3 to Fresno State. The Gauchos’ overall record, consequently, was knocked down to 2-5, while Fresno evened theirs to 2-2.
It’s been five seasons since Santa Barbara has lost to Fresno State. Tracing all the way back to 2015, the team did not once allow the Bulldogs to secure more than a point, and even bested them 7-0 in 2016. The Bulldogs came into this year’s match with a more ferocious bite, challenging UCSB all the way through.
Santa Barbara has continuously been unable to maintain an upper hand in its doubles competitions, and frustratingly, this match was no different. Fresno State brought the Gauchos down early to claim the majority.
Even after a hopeful win at the No. 1 spot last week versus Pepperdine, juniors Joseph Rotheram and Victor Krustev were taken down in a 6-2 set by Fresno’s freshman-senior pair Johannes Seeman and Cagatay Soke. The Bulldog duo remains undefeated on court one. Senior-sophomore pairing Alex Dominguez Soto and Luka Vukmanovic caught the other loss in a closer 6-4 set.
Unsurprisingly, senior co-captain Joseph Guillin and sophomore Alejandro Vedri were and remain to be the exception to this fate. The pair triumphed at the No. 2 spot with a 6-3 win over Bulldog senior-duo Angus Bradshaw and Zdenek Derkas.
As a pair and on their own, Guillin and Vedri have been key sources of stability for the team. Two weeks ago, Vedri’s overall performance earned him the title of Big West Men’s Athlete of the Week. The second-year continued to impress, bringing home another win on Thursday.
This week, the accolade was handed over to No. 8 Guillin, whose four official wins this season have included one over a fellow nationally-ranked player from Pepperdine. Versus Fresno State, the co-captain defeated Derkas in two sets, the last being an almost too-close-for-comfort win.
At the end of the day, all eyes turned to rookie Joshua Williams, the Gaucho freshman who has had a solid showing in his short collegiate career. Against senior Henrique Wojciecnowski Osorio, Williams swiped the first set 6-3, but Osario reversed the score, securing the second and pushing his opponent to a third-set tiebreaker. In a fiery battle between the players, the Fresno State returner clinched the win for the Bulldogs with a 7-6 (7-5) victory.
Overall, UCSB and Fresno State ended with an even 3-3 split in the singles competitions. Krustev escaped his unlucky streak on the doubles side to secure a quick two-set win in the No. 2 spot, joining teammates Vedri and Guillin.
The missed opportunity to claim a win on their home court might be one to lament, as they are set to hit the road again and will not see another home game until the tail end of the month. But the Gauchos have no time to quell on the loss, as their rebound time is just a short three days.
UCSB is set to play the University of Arizona — a Pac 12 mega-house ranked 23rd in the nation and stacked with several nationally ranked players. The Wildcats already have nine games under their belt and sport an outstanding 8-1 record, which is sure to challenge Santa Barbara. UCSB’s eighth dual match will begin at 1 p.m. this Sunday, Feb. 9.