SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – The Gauchos (8-13, 3-1) fell just short in their bid to become the No. 1 seed at the upcoming Big West tournament as they fell to rivals Cal Poly (9-12, 4-1) in San Luis Obispo on Saturday in the annual Blue-Green Rivalry match. UC Santa Barbara dropped the doubles point and split their singles matches in the 4-3 loss.
Since Hawaii already wrapped up a first round bye with their Friday afternoon victory against UC Irvine, the Gauchos will now have to begin their title defense as the No. 3 seed in the first round of the conference championships against the No. 6-seeded UC Riverside Highlanders (0-5, 2-21).
With the loss, the Gauchos finish the season with a 3-1 conference record and 8-13 overall while Cal Poly earned the No. 2 seed and a first round bye as they improved to 4-1 against Big West opponents and 9-12 overall.
The Gauchos saw some lineup changes as junior Tobias Galskov, who usually plays at No. 1 doubles and singles, was absent from the lineup. Senior Sasha Gryaznov replaced Galskov as junior Ziad Sultan's doubles partner at No. 1 doubles and everyone moved up a spot in singles play.
In doubles, Sasha Gryaznov and Ziad Sultan suffered a close 8-6 loss to Comuzzo/Thomson at No. 1 doubles and Gaucho duo Teague Hamilton and Andrew Riminton were edged by an identical 8-6 score at No. 3 doubles as the Mustangs clinched the doubles point. UCSB's Erik Johnsson and Miles Seemann were up 7-4 in their match at No. 2 doubles but play was halted after Cal Poly took the 1-0 lead.
The Mustangs added onto their lead with two straight victories at No. 2 singles and No. 6 singles to put the Gauchos in a 0-3 hole. Junior Ziad Sultan put the Gauchos on the board with a straight set win against the Mustangs' Ben Donovan 6-4, 7-6 (2) at No. 1 singles but Cal Poly sealed the match victory after Miles Seemann dropped his match 6-2, 7-6 (2) at the No. 5 slot.
The two teams continued play as UCSB notched two more victories to make the score 4-3. At No. 3 singles, freshman Erik Johnsson defeated Jurgen De Jager for his 11th dual victory of the season. Freshman Teague Hamilton battled back from a set down to top Corey Pang at No. 4 singles for his fifth consecutive victory and 14th dual win.
With the regular season behind them, the Gauchos will now turn their focus to the Big West Championships held at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden from April 24 through April 27. Last season, the Gauchos made history as they became the first fifth seed to win the conference tournament. UCSB will enter this year's tournament as the No. 3 seed and draw UC Riverside as first round opponents. The Gauchos swept the Highlanders in their previous, regular-season meeting.
The Gauchos will begin their quest for a 9th Big West Championship title at 9 a.m. on Thursday, April 24 in Indian Wells, Calif.
Cal Poly (4), UCSB (3)
April 19, 2014
Mustang Courts (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
1. Marco Comuzzo/Matt Thomson (CP) def. Ziad Sultan/Sasha Gryaznov (UCSB) 8-6
2. Erik Johnsson/Miles Seemann (UCSB) vs. Corey Pang/Devin Barber (CP) 7-4
3. Ben Donovan/Jurgen De Jager (CP) def. Teague Hamilton/Andrew Riminton (UCSB) 8-6
1. Ziad Sultan (UCSB) def. Ben Donovan (CP) 6-4, 7-6 (7-2)
2. Marco Comuzzo (CP) def. Sasha Gryaznov (UCSB) 6-4, 6-3
3. Erik Johnsson (UCSB) def. Jurgen De Jager (CP) 3-6, 7-6, 3-0 retired
4. Teague Hamilton (UCSB) def. Corey Pang (CP) 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (7-2)
5. Matt Thomson (CP) def. Miles Seemann (UCSB) 6-2, 7-6 (7-2)
6. Naveen Beasely (CP) def. Andrew Riminton (UCSB) 6-2, 6-2
Order of Finish: Doubles (3, 1); Singles (2, 6, 1, 5, 3, 4)
UCSB Season Record: 8-13; Big West 3-1