WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina – The first round of the NCAA Singles Championships saw UC Santa Barbara's own No. 67 ranked Nicolas Moreno de Alboran face No. 43 Alexis Galarneau of North Carolina State. The junior Gaucho knew today's opening match would be a tough one, but when all was said and done Moreno de Alboran came out the victor defeating Galarneau 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
As the score indicated, this match was one that was very close and could have gone either way. Luckily for the New York native, he did just enough utilizing his forehand to perfection and earning just enough return serves to get the win.
"Galarneau is just a sophomore so he has a bright future ahead of him, but Nic was just slightly better. The difference really was Nic getting a couple more returns down the stretch that helped," Davis said. "Nic is just so excited for the opportunity tomorrow and we both think he will play even better tomorrow because he will be more used to these courts."
With the win, Moreno de Alboran became the first UCSB athlete to win an NCAA Singles Tournament match since 1995 when Santa Barbara's Alex Decret defeated Gus Fernandez of LSU, 6-4, 7-5. Overall, at the Division-I level, this win marks just the fifth win by a UCSB player in program history. Three of those wins were by Kip Brady who in 1989 won three matches at the NCAA Tournament making it to the quarterfinals, the furthest a Gaucho athlete has ever reached.
Now, Moreno de Alboran will turn his attention to the No. 1 seed and all-around No. 1 player in the country tomorrow as he will face UCLA's Martin Redlicki. The Bruin senior defeated Tim Sandkaulen of Ole Miss, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1. Despite not having played Moreno de Alboran, the Gauchos have seen Redlicki before as last season he outlasted Morgan Mays in three sets. Redlicki is a big serving lefty, meaning Moreno de Alboran will have to serve well and take advantage of any chances he can when trying to break.
"Everyone at this tournament is at an elite level so there isn't much of a difference in terms of skill level but rather game styles," Davis said. "Redlicki is a power player, he is going to try to outpower you and we will find out what that means for Nic. Nic has played tough competition close and now we will see how he does against a big lefty."
"What we are hoping to see is Nic stringing together a bunch of good returns in the same game, not two each game but like five in one," Davis said. "Nic has to have a great game to break and he has a great chance because Redlicki can be beaten.
With a win in tomorrow's match, Moreno de Alboran would advance to the Round of 16 meaning he would be named an All-American, the first Gaucho to do that since Brady.
Moreno de Alboran will face Redlicki at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at Wake Forest University, the site of the NCAA Championships.