LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Following a 4-0 victory one day ago, the UC Santa Barbara men's tennis team fell short in the ITA Kick-Off Classic Championship losing to USC, the hosts of the weekends' events, 6-1.
Although the score might indicate a blowout, the Gauchos were actually hanging tough with the No. 5 team in the country in both doubles and singles play.
In doubles, playing on the No. 1 court was juniors Nicolas Moreno de Alboran and Anders Holm going against the top team at USC comprised of Brandon Holt and Riley Smith. The No. 44 ranked Gaucho duo fought hard but ultimately fell 6-3 giving the USC pair their first win of the season.
Jack Jaede and Laurens Verboven then claimed their eighth straight victory, and the doubles point for the Trojans, after knocking off UCSB's senior Simon Freund and redshirt freshman Joseph Rotheram, 6-4.
"We really hung in with them throughout the day," Head Coach Marty Davis said. "We would only be down a break or on serve pretty much until the end when they clinched."
In singles, the Gauchos also hang very tough with each match coming down to the wire and multiple extending to a third set.
At first, UCSB was in a very tough spot as No. 54 Logan Smith defeated Holm in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4. Then, USC's No. 96 ranked Thibault Forget defeated junior transfer Hironori Koyanagi 6-2, 6-4 to take a 3-0 lead, needing just one more point to seal the match victory.
Despite the odds looking tough, the UCSB athletes continued battling which came to fruition in court five which saw freshman Victor Krustev defeat USC's Jack DeVine 6-3, 7-6 (3) for what would be the Gauchos only point of the match.
Following the win, with the score 3-1 in favor of USC, many of the matches still ongoing and heading into a third set setting up the potential for the Gauchos to still steal the win down the stretch.
On the No. 2 court, Freund faced Daniel Cukierman and won the first set 6-4 before losing the second by the same mark. In the third set, however, fatigue set in and Cukierman dominated Freund 6-0 to win the point and the match for the Trojans.
Despite sealing the win, the rest of the matches continued and saw Verboven defeat sophomore transfer Joseph Guillin in three sets after despite dropping the first.
The day's events concluded with seeing No. 42 ranked Moreno de Alboran nearly knock off No. 13 Brandon Holt with set scores of 2-6, 7-6 (6) and 4-6 in favor of the USC athlete.
In the third set, at 2-2 and 4-4, Moreno de Alboran had break point opportunities to help turn the tide in his favor, but unfortunately failed to convert on both. After losing the 4-4 break opportunity and the point, Holt won the final service game 40-15 sealing the 6-4 set win.
"At one point we really though we could come back and win this thing, the win by Victor was huge," Davis said. "Guys like Nic fought back from a couple match points down to earn the split and extend the match and had he beaten Holt, a guy we expect to be probably top five in the nation, it would've been a good win."
Despite the loss, its clear the Gauchos are right there in terms of competing with some of the top team in the nation, but needs a little more if it hopes to knock one off some day soon.
"The 6-1 does not look good, but we had some good fights, had three singles go to three sets and we had many opportunities throughout the matches," Davis said. "Overall the energy was good and we hope next time we could finish off the key points to beat a top team like this."
Of course, with this being the beginning of the season for UCSB, its still very possible that by the end of the year we could be looking at a team capable of knocking off someone as well known as USC.
"We feel like we are in good shape to play these top teams and I think that puts us in a good spot," Davis said. "We just need to get back, train and improve upon our mistakes and keep playing hard throughout the season."
The Gauchos next game will be against San Diego State at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 2 at the Rec Center Courts for UCSB's first home game of the season.
Jan. 27, 2018 | Marks Stadium (Los Angeles, Calif.)
(1) #6 Holt/R. Smith (USC) def. Holm/Moreno de Alboran (UCSB) — 6-3
(2) Jaede/Verboven (USC) def. Freund/Rotheram (UCSB) — 6-4
(3) Cukierman/T. Smith (USC) vs. Guillen/Krustev (UCSB) — 5-5 susp.
USC wins doubles point.
Order of finish: 1, 2
(1) #11 Brandon Holt (USC) def. Nicolas Moreno de Alboran (UCSB) — 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-4
(2) Daniel Cukierman (USC) def. Simon Freund (UCSB) — 4-6, 6-4, 6-0*
(3) #54 Logan Smith (USC) def. Anders Holm (UCSB) — 6-1, 6-4
(4) Laurens Verboven (USC) def. Joseph Guillin (UCSB) — 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
(5) Victor Krustev (UCSB) def. Jake DeVine (USC) — 6-3, 7-6(3)
(6) #96 Thibault Forget (USC) def. Hironori Koyanagi (UCSB) — 6-2, 6-4
Order of finish: 3, 6, 5, 2*, 4, 1