SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — In the first day of action at the annual UCSB Classic, the UC Santa Barbara men's tennis team showed some tremendous poise in both singles and doubles play in all four flights despite having some losses along the way.
The tournament began with doubles play, where one Santa Barbara pair would pick up a win in each flight and advance to the Semi-Finals. The newly formed pair of senior Simon Freund and junior Anders Holm enjoyed some immediate success in the A Flight taking care of Pepperdine's Lautaro Pane and Matias Sborowitz without much trouble, 8-5.
"We wanted to give Simon and Anders a look, they both have a very good natural sense of how to play doubles and it definitely showed in their level of tennis today," Assistant Coach Blake Muller said.
In the B Flight, proven junior Nicolas Moreno de Alboran was paired up with freshman Ajai Shekhara. The pair struggled to ever break away from St. Mary's Nash Vollenweider and Matis Bot as the match had to go to a tiebreaker to decide the winner.
Moreno de Alboran and Shekhara rallied to get the 8-7 (7-2) victory and advance to play a Fresno State duo in tomorrow's action.
Redshirt freshman Joseph Rotheram and freshman Henrik Atlevi had one of the easier wins of the day despite playing a duo made up of senior Jacob Lagman and junior Brian Lee. The two, with little to no college-level tennis experience, beat the St. Mary's pair 8-2.
In the D flight, redshirt freshman Daunte Harris was paired with UCLA's Conner Rapp and the two seemed to be a perfect fit as the cruised to an 8-1 victory.
On the singles side, Moreno de Alboran, Freund and Holm represented the Gauchos in the top flight of the tournament with two of the three getting victories.
Freund was the lone losing player in the flight as he had a tough match against Stanford's Jack Barber. The senior played Barber tough in each game constantly clawing back to tie, however, Barber won the important points to win games and consequently in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4.
"Simon started a bit passive then tried to win points at the baseline rather than trying to build points winning at the net," Muller said. "He played a good player and we saw some things we have to work on."
Moreno de Alboran played great against Washington's Joao Barra as he constantly dictated the flow of the match and did not let Barra get any momentum eventually winning 6-2 in both sets.
"He did what he does well," Muller said. "He used his forehand well, he served well, he competed well and I think he played at a high level from start to finish."
Holm's win, despite coming in straight sets as well, was won a lot tougher. In the first set, Holm was able to come up with two breaks and never stayed to passive and won 6-3. In the second set, Holm was down a break but managed to fight back and found a way to get a break at 5-6 to then take the set, 7-6 and the overall victory moving on in the tournament.
Moreno de Alboran and Holm will have much tougher matches tomorrow as they will face Stanford's William Genesen and David Wilczynski, ranked 103rd nationally, respectively.
Flight B showcased the pair of new freshman, Atlevi, and Shekhara but both failed to get a win in their singles collegiate debut. Atlevi lost in three sets after taking the first set 7-6, however, fatigue seemed to become a factor after that set as he lost the next two 2-6, 0-6. Shekhara lost in straight sets 6-3, 6-2.
"First college matches are a little different, the intensity is a little different," Muller said. "It was good to see some wins from the freshman in the doubles and now we hope they can bounce back in the consolation."
The Gauchos also picked up a win with Rotheram defeating Washington Kawika Lam 6-4, 6-4 in Flight C while Harris had a bye in Flight D meaning he makes his singles season debut on Saturday.
The UCSB Classic continues Saturday, Oct. 7 at 9 a.m. with the doubles portion of the tournament followed by two singles matches.
Flight A of the tournament will take place at the Recreation Center Courts while Flights B and D of the Classic will be taking place at the Rob Gym Courts. Flight C will be at the Stadium Courts.