Coming off of a pair of losses from the long weekend’s matches versus Minnesota and Indiana, the UC Santa Barbara men’s tennis team has again failed to put an end to the painful trend which has foregrounded its 2020 season.
After what resulted in a 4-2 loss on another unfamiliar indoor court, the most recent match against the Hoosiers left Santa Barbara frustrated and longing for a familiar environment. Within a sparse collection of singles wins, senior Joseph Guillin was at the receiving end of another upset — his second of the weekend — and the partners participating in doubles once again dropped the ball on the day. Consequently, UCSB’s dual-match record fell to 2-8, the lowest it has been since the seniors entered the program in the 2015-16 season.
Yet now, after nine games on the road, the Gauchos are finally coming home. In two back-to-back matches against the University of the Pacific and the University of San Francisco (USF), Santa Barbara will have the chance to reclaim their seemingly lost mojo.
The weekend will begin with a face-off between the Gauchos and the Pacific Tigers, a crucial match which SB can hopefully use to reverse its fate. With just a single win interrupting a spread of six otherwise straight losses since the beginning of January, Pacific comes in with an underwhelming 1-6 overall record.
But the Tigers likely have some fight left over from their most recent match against Santa Barbara’s seasoned competitor, UC Irvine. Pacific battled Irvine in a fiery competition but ultimately fell 3-4, losing ground in doubles competitions.
Freshman Coby McCaig has been a recurring name across the Tigers’ last few matches. Along with a singles victory in his latest appearance against Irvine, the Modesto native clinched Pacific’s first dual match win versus Grand Canyon with a well-earned 6-3, 7-5 triumph on court six.
However, Sunday’s match versus USF will likely pose more of a threat to the Gauchos’ comeback. In their past eight games, the Dons have seen an inconsistent mix of outcomes, from lofty sweeps to 1-point margin losses. Accordingly, the Northern California-based team currently splits their dubs and defeats to make a 4-4 overall record.
Interestingly, USF has seen many of the same competitors as Santa Barbara. Where UCSB was able to scrounge its second and most recent victory against Loyola Marymount University in a tight 4-3 match at the start of the month, USF fell 3-4 to the Lions in its first game of the season.
The Dons will arrive in Santa Barbara just a week after their equalizing 4-0 blowout over Boise State. Here, the spotlight shone early on San Francisco’s pairs in doubles competition. Sophomore partners Mitch Johnson and Phuc Huynh finished a swift 6-3 takedown to secure the first win of the day and were followed by freshman-senior duo Ori Maior and Paul Giraud, who clinched the doubles point.
It is exactly this early success, especially in the doubles department, that the Gauchos have been lacking over their last ten games. Executing a win over either team will necessarily require readjustment — even more than pushing Joseph Rotheram and Victor Krustev into the two spot, as Head Coach Marty Davis did against Indiana.
More than ever, local crowds may help to remind the Gauchos of the encouragement and support they’ve been missing the past two months. Come and join in welcoming the Gauchos back home this Saturday and Sunday, at 1:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. respectively, on the Rec Cen courts.