LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara men's tennis team battled hard in their match-up against third ranked UCLA but ultimately lost in a 6-1 decision down in Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon. The Bruins won the doubles point then proceeded to take five of six singles matches to hand the Gauchos their first loss of this early season.
The Gauchos did have positives to take away from the match as sophomore Axel Bouillin continued his undefeated season in singles with a 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 victory over Dennis Novikov, helping the Gauchos avoid the sweep.
Bouillin said of UCLA, "Ranked at No. 3, they obviously have a lot of solid players and tough competitors." And although the Gauchos were one loss short of a sweep, Bouillin says the "score [didn't] reflect the quality of the matches that were played."
This was the case at court No. 3, where junior Sasha Gryaznov took Clay Thompson to the limit. Gryaznov lost the first set in a close 7-6 (5) decision but came back and won the next set 3-6. Thompson was able to put Gryaznov away in a third set tiebreaker, 10-6 to win the match for the Bruins.
The Gauchos faced a couple of players ranked among the nation's top-50. Sophomore Ziad Sultan faced #41 Dennis Mkrtchian at the No. 4 position, dropping his match 6-2, 6-0. Meanwhile at court No. 2, senior Mbonisi Ndimande was able to keep his match close against #12 Marcos Giron, tying the game at 4-4 in the first set only to lose 6-4. He also lost the second set by a score of 6-4.
The Gauchos also suffered losses at the No. 1 position where senior Benjamin Recknagel was defeated by Adrien Puget 6-2, 6-1 and at the No. 6 position where newcomer Andrew Riminton was topped by Karue Sell 6-1, 6-3.
Bouillin also believes there is plenty of "room for improvement" early on in the season, especially in doubles. UCSB dropped both doubles matches, winning only three combined games at the No. 1 and No. 3 positions. The game at court No. 2 was suspended after UCLA clinched the doubles point.
The Gauchos will return home Feb. 9th to play Loyola Marymount. Action is set to begin at 1:00 PM at the Rec Cen courts.
No. 3 UCLA 6, No. 68 UCSB 1
1. Giron/Novikov (UCLA) def. Ndimande/Recknagel (UCSB) 8-2
2. Puget/Sell (UCLA) vs. Bouillin/Gryaznov (UCSB) 6-4, unfinished
3. Alex Brigham/Mkrtchian (UCLA) def. Riminton/Sultan (UCSB) 8-1
1. Adrien Puget (UCLA) def. Benjamin Recknagel (UCSB) 6-2, 6-1
2. #12 Marcos Giron (UCLA) def. Mbonisi Ndimande (UCSB) 6-4, 6-4
3. Axel Bouillin (UCSB) def. Dennis Novikov (UCLA) 7-5, 1-6, 6-3
4. #41 Dennis Mkrtchian (UCLA) def. Ziad Sultan (UCSB) 6-2, 6-0
5. Clay Thompson (UCLA) def. Alexander Gryaznov (UCSB) 7-6(5), 3-6, (10-6)
6. Karue Sell (UCLA) def. Andrew Riminton (UCSB) 6-1, 6-3
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (4,1,6,2,3,5)
UCSB SEASON RECORD: 1-1; BIG WEST 0-0