SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara is back on the winning side of things as it played an exceptional match in both singles and doubles to bury Grand Canyon University, 6-1 and improve get back to .500.
With the win, UCSB (4-4) broke its previous three-game losing skid and, more impressive, the Gauchos won all three of their third-set matches today, something that had been hurting them the past two weeks. It also handed GCU (6-2) just its second loss of the season and broke its previous five-match winning streak.
"There were a lot of positives today. We played a lot better in doubles which we have been focusing on and we won all our three-set matches today which was a struggle for us so overall it was a good day," Head Coach Marty Davis said.
In its previous two outings, Santa Barbara struggled to take the doubles point with their No. 2 duo comprised of sophomores Victor Krustev and Joseph Rotheram being the only team to win in both matches.
Today, however, UCSB came out firing on all cylinders. First, Krustev and Rotheram came through again for the Gauchos, earning a 6-2 win giving the sophomore duo their fourth consecutive win.
"We have really good chemistry and compliment each other's games really well," Rotheram said.
"They have come together nicely. Victor is playing at another level right now and for Joey [Rotheram] he is getting so much more experience that he is really starting to come into his own as well," Davis said.
Then, junior Joseph Guillin and freshman Wilhelm Saiga clinched the point with a 6-3 win on court three. This was Saiga's first ever win in a dual match setting. With the point wrapped up, seniors Nicolas Moreno de Alboran and Anders Holm did not finish their set but were well on their way to a win up 5-3.
In singles, senior Hironori Koyanagi kept the momentum on high for UCSB pulling out an impressive 6-1, 6-1 win on court six bouncing back from his previous outing when he lost in three sets.
Not much later, Guillin, ranked No. 27 in the country, avenged his previous two losses last week with a strong straight-set win, 6-3, 6-1, on court two to improve to 5-3 overall this season. With his win, UCSB led 3-0 needing just one more point to clinch the match.
Unfortunately, the clinch would not come at the No. 4 spot as Holm was defeated 6-4, 6-4 by GCU's senior Lucas Grego. It's been a tough few matches for Holm who sits at just 2-5 overall and has lost his last four matches.
Still, the senior co-captain is tough and if anyone could get through this, it is Holm who finished last year winning his last three matches and six of his last 10.
Up 3-1, Rotheram delivered the winning point for UCSB clinching a win for his team with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 win on court five. For Rotheram, this was a huge win as it was his third straight and his first clinching match win of the year as he now sits at 3-3.
"I feel like I have my mind in the right place now. I have much more confidence in my game at this point and playing at home with my friends and our fans watching is the best," Rotheram said.
Even with the match decided, the other two matches on court continued and featured the other two ranked Gauchos, Moreno de Alboran and Krustev on courts one and three, respectively.
First, Moreno de Alboran, ranked No. 14 in the country, won his three-set marathon, 6-3, 6-7, 6-1 for his second straight win. Then, not much later, Krustev won his match, 6-0, 6-7, 6-1 to improve to 6-1 on the year, the best mark on the team and give UCSB the 6-1 win.
Overall, this was a resounding victory for UCSB. Regardless of anything else, after three straight losses, Santa Barbara needed something to give them momentum heading into one of its toughest games of the season, Arizona next Saturday.
Additionally, it is also good that the players were able to get a win behind a rowdy home crowd that seemed to electrify everyone on court. Now, the Gauchos just have to keep up this pace of play.
UCSB will take on Arizona at noon on Saturday, March 2 at the Rec Cen Courts. Follow @UCSBTennis on twitter for live updates.