May 10, 2006

Gauchos Head North for NCAA Tournament Action

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May 10, 2006

2006 Gaucho Record
15-10 overall/3-0 Big West Conference
12-3 home/1-6 road/2-1 neutral

UCSB Makes Sixth Big Dance Appearance
UC Santa Barbara has advanced to the NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Team Championship for the sixth time in program history - first since 2003 - where it will face California (15-6 overall) on Saturday, May 13 in a neutral-site match held at Stanford University's Taube Tennis Center. First serve between the 71st-ranked Gauchos and No. 20 Golden Bears is slated for 9:00 a.m. The host Cardinal (15-3) face Quinnipiac (12-7) in Saturday's other first-round matchup, with the two winners meeting the following day at 11:00 a.m. The four teams will by vying for a spot in the NCAA Sweet 16, slated for the following weekend and also held in Stanford, Calif. UCSB earned an automatic berth in the 64-team Big Dance by defeating Pacific 4-3 in the Big West Conference Tournament Championship match on April 30 in Indian Wells, Calif.

Gauchos Live on the Web
Stanford will offer live video streaming from all six courts as well as a continuously-updating scoreboard during this weekend's NCAA Tournament action at the Taube Tennis Center. Click here once the action is underway Saturday and Sunday.

Santa Barbara's NCAA Tourney History
UCSB has posted a 4-5 record in its five previous NCAA Team Championship appearances. The Gauchos' best performance occurred in 1997, when they posted a pair of upsets before falling to Mississippi in the round of 16. Santa Barbara is making its third trip to the tournament under seventh-year head coach Marty Davis, while 2006 marks the first time his Gauchos won't have to face a seeded team in the opening round.

Davis Faces Alma Mater
There will be an intriguing sub-plot when the Gauchos face Cal as UCSB's Marty Davis will coach against his alma mater at the site of his biggest rival as a collegian. Davis is a 1980 graduate of UC Berkeley, where he was a three-time All-American for the Golden Bears and was recently inducted into the school's athletic hall of fame. Following a successful pro career, he was an assistant coach with the Golden Bears before taking over the Gaucho program in 1999. Davis - the 2006 Big West Coach of the Year - is 83-80 in his seven years at UCSB, including an 0-3 mark against Cal.

Tough Up Top
Postseason teams are typically strong at the top of their lineup, and UCSB is certainly no exception. Holding down the No. 1 singles spot is senior Nick Brotman, named Big West Player of the Year after going 14-8 in dual match competition. The native of Toronto, Ontario, Canada defeated several ranked players in 2006, including Pacific's Arnar Sigurdsson - the 2005 conference player of the year - at the recent league championships. Meanwhile Santa Barbara can also boast the Big West Freshman of the Year Bijan Hejazi, who owns a stellar 13-3 mark at No. 2 singles and is 20-6 overall in dual matches. Hejazi - who will be playing near his hometown of Santa Clara, Calif., when the Gauchos face Cal - joined Brotman on the all-conference first team.

Fountain of Youth
In addition to Hejazi, the Gauchos feature several other underclassmen who will ensure their lineup is well-stocked for several years to come. Sophomore Anders Dalskov enters the Big Dance with a 15-9 record and All-Big West Second Team recognition, playing primarily at No. 3 singles. The native of Denmark also teamed with Brotman to post a 12-10 mark at the top doubles spot and earn first team all-league honors. The UCSB freshman doubles tandem of Scott Hohenstein and Carstern Thorstensen garnered Second Team All-Big West acclaim despite a 9-13 mark, while fellow frosh Max Taylor owns a respectable 9-7 record while holding down the No. 6 singles spot for UCSB.

A Stern Warning
The Gauchos might be watching the NCAA's from home if not for the perseverance of junior Elad Stern. In the Big West title match against UOP, the native of Haifa, Israel - who has battled injuries throughout the year - went up against Tim Koniarski at No. 4 singles. After losing the first set 6-0, Stern began to cramp up in the 100-degree desert weather. Remarkably, he fought back to win the second set 7-5 and the third 6-2 to give UCSB the clinching singles point in its 4-3 win over the Tigers. Stern, a veteran of the Israeli Air Force, is the oldest Gaucho at age 25 and a team co-captain along with Brotman.