March 25, 2008
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - In its most exciting match of the 2008 season, the 69th-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's tennis team battled past No. 43 Harvard on Tuesday afternoon at the Recreation Center Courts, 4-3.
UCSB started the match strong, playing their best doubles of the season. The Gauchos registered wins at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles to earn the doubles point. Junior Bijan Hejazi was outstanding at No. 3, blasting several service returns for winners and teaming with partner Nigel Barton for an 8-5 win over Aba Omodele-Lucien and Alexie Chijoff-Evans.
At No. 2 doubles, freshman Alex Konigsfeldt and sophomore Josh Finkelstein were even better as they won for the seventh time in 10 matches, posting an 8-3 victory over Dan Nguyen and Michael Hayes. The Crimson won at No. 1 doubles as Ashwin Kumar and Sasha Emakov defeated Philip Therp and Jack Hui, 8-5.
The singles matches started well for the Gauchos as they served for the first set on every court. Harvard, however, was not going to go away easily and won three of the first six sets.
Playing at No. 4, Koningsfeldt was the only UCSB player to make quick work of his opponent. The native of Denmark jettisoned his Harvard opponent, Omodele-Lucien by a score of 6-2, 6-0, giving the Gauchos a 2-0 lead.
The Crimson pulled to within one point when Chiijoff-Evans swept Max Taylor at No. 6 singles, 7-6, 6-1. That was what the score remained for an extended period as the other four matches evolved.
Therp, playing at No. 1 for just the second time this season and the first time since the season-opener, swept Kumar by a score of 7-5, 6-2, giving the Gauchos a 3-1 edge. It was his fifth straight singles win, but Harvard responded with a win at No. 5, as Will Guzick defeated Finkelstein, 7-5, 6-4.
Meanwhile, Hejazi, who won the first set over Ermakov, lost the second and fell behind 3-0 in the third set. He battled back to tie the score at 4-4, and he kept the momentum going for a 6-4 win. Hui, meanwhile, was going toe-to-toe with Nguyen at No. 3. Nguyen won the first set 7-6, and then won the second in a tiebreaker, 7-6.
"Bijan pulled it off," said head coach Marty Davis. "He had a lot of pressure on him and he responded. That was great."
"This was a huge win for the Gauchos," said Davis. "It gives the guys a positive memory to draw upon the next time things get tight. It provides motivation to many of the guys who are just starting to realize how good they can be. Psychologically this was huge. As a, team we came through in a tight situation and that gives us a confidence boost."
The victory was the fifth in a row for UCSB. The Gauchos, now 8-4, host Santa Clara University on Thursday, Mar. 27, at the Tennis Club of Santa Barbara. On Saturday, Mar. 29, they will host San Diego State at the Recreation Center Courts.
No. 69 UCSB 4 - No. 43 Harvard 3
Doubles No. 1 Kumar/Ermakov def. Therp/Hui (UCSB) 8-5 No. 2 Konigsfeldt/Finkelstein (UCSB) def. Hayes/Nguyen 8-3 No. 3 Hejazi/Nigel Barton (UCSB) def. Omodele-Lucien/Chijoff-Evans 8-5
Singles No. 1 Philip Therp (UCSB) def. Kumar 7-5,6-2 No. 2 Bijan Hejazi (UCSB) def. Ermakov 6-3,5-7,6-4 No. 3 Nguyen def. Jack Hui (UCSB) 7-6,7-6 No. 4 Alexander Konigsfeldt (UCSB) def. Omodele-Lucien 6-2,6-0 No. 5 Guzick def. Josh Finkelstein (UCSB) 7-5,6-4 No. 6 Chijoff-Evans def. Max Taylor (UCSB) 7-6,6-1