SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The UC Santa Barbara men's tennis team battled all weekend long throughout its annual UCSB Classic and it showed as, in the final day of action, the Gauchos had the opportunity to win as many as six tournament titles throughout the four flights.
"This was a good opportunity for us to allow all our guys to compete and play and set a baseline of where we are at for the season," Assistant Coach Blake Muller said. "Overall, I am happy with how our guys are looking physically this early in the season."
Senior Simon Freund walked away with the teams only title after defeating Cal Poly's Josh Ortlip 6-1, 6-4 in the consolation final.
"I had a tough loss to start the tournament but I just tried to make the best of it and it worked out pretty well," Freund said. "It's good and bad. It's not great to get knocked out early but it's a good sign for me to bounce back and focus on the next match."
"At the end of the day this tournament is about getting matches and we want to see our guys compete," Muller said. "Simon demonstrated that really well after not playing up to par Friday, he stayed tough, re-focus and he set a good example for our younger guys."
For the second straight tournament, Freund showed a lot of poise managing to make it to the consolation championship after a disappointing loss in his opening draw, but this time, the Sweden native managed to win the match.
"They [Coach Davis and Muller] complement each other perfectly," Freund said. "They help me to focus on the long run, especially now during the fall season to work on my serve and these little things to get better every day. We are focusing on the progress and hopefully, the wins follow."
Junior Nicolas Moreno de Alboran came into the day with an opportunity to win the singles A Flight Championship. Last year, Morgan Mays became the first UCSB athlete to win the Classic's A Flight. but failed to do so as Richboro, PA's David Wilczynski, ranked 103
Moreno de Alboran was hoping to become the second but failed to do so as Richboro, PA's David Wilczynski, ranked 103rd nationally, took home the championship defeating Moreno de Alboran in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4.
"There are some things Nic can improve on to help him play at a higher level but I am still happy with where he is at, he competed today at a high level," Muller said.
In the same flight, Anders Holm faced Cal's Paul Barretto with a chance to finish fifth in the flight. The junior failed to do so losing in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2.
Freshmen Ajai Shekhara and Henrik Atlevi were both hoping to earn victories on the final day of the B Flight, however, Shekhara would lose to Pacific's Ross Watson 6-4, 6-3 to finish 14th in the flight. On the flip side, Atlevi salvaged his first weekend of collegiate tennis by earning a 6-4, 6-7 (4), 1-0 (5) victory over UCLA's Bryce Pereira.
"It's good for them to get their feet wet and see the level and intensity at this level," Muller said. "We will have talks with them, regroup and come up with a plan to get better, this is all apart of the process."
In Flights C and D, redshirt freshmen Joseph Rotheram and Daunte Harris, respectively, both had the possibilities of winning their first tournament titles, however, both failed to do so in tough, dramatic three-set matches.
After playing in two three-set matches on Saturday, Rotheram came into his match against Fresno State's Catagay Soke a bit tired losing the first set 4-6. He ultimately fought back to win the second set by an impressive 6-1 margin and kept battling in the tiebreaker set before losing, 6-7 (4).
In the D Flight championship, Harris faced Cal Poly's, Alex Slater. Unlike Rotheram, Harris won the first set 6-3 to gain the early advantage, however, he would lose the next set 1-6. In the final set, Slater never felt much pressure taking the third 6-4 and winning the flight.
Doubles play saw the team of Moreno de Alboran/Shekhara lose the Flight B doubles championship to Cal Poly's Enander/Damiens duo 8-1 while the Rotheram/Atlevi UCSB pair lost the C Flight title against another Cal Poly couple made up of Noel/Ortlip, 8-6.
In the top flight, the combination of Holm/Freund was able to salvage a third-place finish after knocking off UCLA's Smith/Pereira team.
Paired with UCLA's Conner Rapp, Harris managed to also win the final doubles match of his tournament run, sweeping St. Mary's Hawk/Krutik 8-0.
Despite only walking away with one title, the Gauchos put together a tough effort throughout the entire tournament, showing great athleticism and conditioning highlight by the fact no UCSB athlete pulled out of the tournament.
That combined with the fact that this was the toughest field put together at the UCSB Classic to date shows that this team certainly has many capable tennis players who can only get better over the course of the fall schedule.
"Santa Barbara is an unbelievably attractive play for teams to come visit and its great for us to get this high-level competition out here on our home court," Muller said. "I am happy with the growth of the tournament, it's becoming a premier event and its thanks to everyone working hard on this event. Hopefully, we can continue growing the tournament."
UC Santa Barbara will be back in action at the ITA Regionals Thursday, October 19 in Malibu, California.