April 28, 2007
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. - After four hours of tennis in searing heat, the UC Santa Barbara men's team pulled out an exhausting 4-3 semifinal victory against UC Irvine at Indian Wells Tennis Garden Saturday. UCSB junior Jack Hui won in three sets at the No. 4 spot for the clinching point.
With the win, the No. 3 seed Gauchos are in Sunday's championship match against top-seeded Cal Poly. UCSB is participating in the finals for the fifth time in the last six years. The Gauchos won titles in 2002, 2003 and 2006. The Mustangs are making their first appearance in the finals.
Doubles was hotly contested, especially at the No. 3 position where the coveted point was determined. After splitting at No. 1 and No. 2, the focus shifted to UCSB's Josh Finkelstein and Nigel Barton, which eked out a 9-7 win over the UCI tandem of Victor Lamm and Alex Sundling.
UCI regained the momentum though and pulled ahead 2-1 in the match. At No. 1 singles, Aaron Yovan had an easy time against Bijan Hejazi to win 6-2, 6-0. Shimpei Suzuki won 6-3, 6-3 over Finkelstein at No. 5.
At No. 3, the Anteaters evened the match when Mustafa Ululan outlasted Philip Therp 7-5, 6-4, setting up the showdown between Hui and UCI sophomore Trevor Dobson. Therp was able to save five match points before falling.
Hui dropped the first set 6-3 and won 7-6 in the second set, including 7-5 in the tiebreaker. Dobson was up 5-4 in the tiebreaker but committed a pair of double faults to give Hui life. With the match tied 4-4 in the third set, Hui broke Dobson's serve and served out the match in the next game to win 6-4.
"We were a little lucky to escape the tiebreaker," said UCSB head coach Marty Davis. "Trevor has a powerful serve, I think he had about 25 aces today, so we were very fortunate."
Davis also said that Hui was comfortable playing in the desert heat and that helped him too.
"Jack is comfortable out here," assured Davis. "He played two years at the College of the Desert and never lost a match and he has a great deal of confidence in this setting."
The Gauchos, who battled injuries all year, have put themselves in a position to win their second straight league crown. Davis noted that while Santa Barbara has lost eight 4-3 matches this season, tooday's 4-3 win was its first. He was also pleased at the tight victory at No. 3 doubles.
"Josh (Finkelstein) and Nigel (Barton) played a great deal this year because of our injury problems," he began. "That paid off today. Not only was Jack able to win a close one at No. 4 singles, but Josh and Nigel really battled to give us a huge point at No. 3 doubles."
The Gauchos will take on top-seeded Cal Poly at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. The Mustangs were an easy winner over UC Riverside on Saturday and while their match began at the same time as the Gaucho-Anteater showdown, they were off the court about two hours earlier. UCSB lost a 4-3 regular season decision to Cal Poly.
UCSB improved to 5-18 with the win, while UCI ended its season at 11-12.
UC Santa Barbara 4, UC Irvine 3
1. Yovan/Ulukan (UCI) def. Therp/Hui (UCSB) - 8-4
2. Dalskov/Robertson (UCSB) def. Dobson/Tsai (UCI) - 8-5
3. Finkelstein/Nigel Barton (UCSB) def. Lamm/Alex Sundling (UCI) - 9-7
1. Aaron Yovan (UCI) def. Bijan Hejazi (UCSB) - 6-2, 6-0
2. Anders Dalskov (UCSB) def. Victor Lamm (UCI) - 6-4, 6-3
3. Mustafa Ulukan (UCI) def. Philip Therp (UCSB) - 7-5, 6-4
4. Jack Hui (UCSB) def. Trevor Dobson (UCI) - 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4
5. Shimpei Suzuki (UCI) def. Josh Finkelstein (UCSB) - 6-3, 6-3
6. Max Taylor (UCSB) def. Zac Tsai (UCI) - 6-3, 6-4