SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara men's tennis team is playing on another level right now following yet another dominant performance defeating UC Irvine 7-0 for its fourth straight win of the year, the largest streak the team has held this season.
"We won the first sets on all six singles courts which shows how we got off to a great start and credit to UC Irvine for not giving up today but to sweep them is extremely impressive," Head Coach Marty Davis said.
The win also marked UCSB's (12-6 overall, 2-0 Big West) 10th home victory on the season with no losses. With just one game remaining at the Rec Cen Courts in Santa Barbara, the Gauchos know their goal of being perfect at home is literally inches away.
"We are right where we wanted to be at this point in the home season," Davis said. "We thought our conference schedule progressively gets tougher and so after UC Riverside coming home to play UC Davis will be tough but we are confident."
Santa Barbara's impressive 7-0 win is also the biggest margin of victory against UC Irvine (13-10 overall, 0-2 Big West) in program history and has now beaten the Anteaters in six straight matches. Despite being 11-4 in their last 15, the Anteaters two early conference losses is a big disappointment.
Before the match was played, both UCSB and UCI participated in an alumni match which also saw Santa Barbara come out the victor.
The Gauchos alumni, captained by former great Mike Ortiz, defeated the Anteaters 5-1 to regain the alumni cup after losing the last two seasons. Simon Shen, Morgan Mays, Zlad Sultan, Evan Jurgensen, Taylor Goggin, Geoff Crosby and Scott and Craig Cotich all participated as well for the winning UCSB team.
With all that added tennis, fans were cheering loud and proud all morning until the Gauchos took the court and even the UCSB pep band came out showing its full support which was a huge factor for the 'Chos early.
"We had a great atmosphere today thanks to our wonderful alumni and a great crowd and it was nice to win in front of them and carry on this legacy as best possible," Senior Simon Freund said. "UC Irvine was not giving up at all so I thought we all did a good job of maintaining focus to get the win."
As it has done the last few weeks, UCSB came out firing right away in doubles. For the eighth time in their last 10 games, the Gauchos came away with the opening point thanks to great performances at the top two courts.
"We are really starting to figure out our doubles lineup and I think we are very fortunate to have such a solid team on court one and allowing the rest of us as new pairs to get more comfortable and get going," Freund said.
Top UCSB duo consisting of juniors Anders Holm and Nicolas Moreno de Alboran won their third doubles match in their last four outings following a 6-2 win today pushing their record to 10-5. Redshirt freshman Joseph Rotheram and senior captain Simon Freund than brought home the point following a 6-3 win.
In singles, the top three courts continued their dominance with each of them earning a straight-set victory pretty early to help the Gauchos pull away early.
Sophomore transfer Joseph Guillin won his 14th game in his last 15 appearances with a 6-1, 6-2 win over UCI's Krasnov. Guillin lost both sets opening points but rallied to improve to a very impressive 15-2 mark on the season.
The No. 79 ranked player in the country also continued his dominance as Moreno de Alboran improved to 10-0 at home. The New York native took the first set rather easy and was up 4-1 in the second set before UCI's Lopez made it interesting taking the next two points. Moreno de Alboran would go on to win, however, 6-3, 6-3 for his third straight win.
Freund would seal the win with a 6-0, 6-4 win on court three to give the Gauchos the 4-0 lead. Not even a full couple of minutes later, Krustev picked up a 6-1, 6-4 win on court five to put the 'Chos up 5-0.
Over on court four, Holm had a split going through two sets after winning the first set 6-2 before dropping the second 3-6. With the match being sealed Holm and UCI's Gealer played a 10-point tiebreaker which saw Holm win 10-4 for his second win of the conference season.
Last but not least, junior transfer Hironori Koyanagi continued his confidence boost with yet another win on court six earning a 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 victory on the day to give the 'Chos the 7-0 win.
"We have options at six which is great and it allows us to match-up a little bit and have game styles that we like at the final spot so its nice to have that flexibility," Davis said.
Overall, Santa Barbara could not have asked a better start to the conference season. Not only did it dominate its two opponents but it did so with style not giving up a single point. Dating back the last three seasons, UCSB is 12-0 in conference games and while it never gets easier the wins also never get old.
"This is an opportunity match for us to win in order to get our ranking up where they should be and its on the road so we are hoping to get another nationally ranked win on the road," Davis said.
UCSB is back on the road to take on No. 37 LMU at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 10th at the LMU Tennis Center.
UCSB 7, UC Irvine 0
Rec Cen Courts; April 8th, 2018
1) Moreno de Alboran/Holm def. Marquard/Hansen, 6-2
2) Freund/Rotheram def. Manson Hing/Bajpai, 6-3
3) Guillin/Krustev vs. Gealer Lopez, 3-4 (uf)
1) Moreno def. Lopez, 6-3, 6-3
2) Guillin def. Krasnov, 6-1, 6-2
3) Freund def. Marquard, 6-0, 6-3
4) Holm vs. Gealer, 6-2, 3-6, 1-0 (10-4)
5) Krustev def. Hansen, 6-1, 6-4
6) Koyanagi vs. Bajpai, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4
Order of finish: 2, 1, 3*, 5, 4, 6