UCSB To Defend Big West Conference Crown at Tournament

April 26, 2007

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. - The UCSB men's tennis team is heading to Indian Wells, Calif. as the reigning Big West Conference champions with hopes of defending its title. With a first-round bye, No. 3 seeded UCSB will play in the semi-final match against No. 2 seed UC Irvine on Saturday at 9 a.m.

"[The season] all comes down to the conference tournament this weekend at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells," UCSB Head Coach Marty Davis said. "The [team] remains confident that they can defend their Big West conference crown and advance to the "Big Dance" for the fourth time in six years.

The Gauchos, who have been plagued by injuries all season, needs only two wins to win the championship for the second consecutive year. If Santa Barbara defeats Irvine, it will go on to play the winner of the match between No. 1 seed Cal Poly and the winner of fourth seeded Riverside and No. 5 seed Pacific.

Santa Barbara lost a very close match to Cal Poly earlier this year, 4-3. Cal Poly took the doubles point after the Mustangs won all three matches to start the day. The Gauchos then picked up their play in singles action, winning three of the six matches. Five of the matches went to three sets and the Mustangs took the five and six singles matches to earn the conference victory.

"UCSB held a match point in its regular season match against the Mustangs before being downed, 4-3. Clearly, the conference is very, very even this year; the Big West title will likely be decided by the narrowest of margins," Davis said. "Perhaps the [forecasted] hot weather will be the difference for UCSB -- the Gauchos have earned a reputation over the years for their fitness and toughness.

Davis has altered his normal line-up for the tournament in doubles play. Jack Hui and Philip Therp will team up to play at the No. 1 spot. Davis made the change in order to help Gaucho ace Bijan Hejazi to concentrate on his singles match. Hejazi was the Big West Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 28 after winning a crucial singles point in the match against Cal Poly.

First serve in Indian Wells is slated for 9 a.m.