INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – The fifth seeded Gauchos powered past No. 3 seed Pacific at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in a 4-2 triumph to claim their first Big West Championship title since 2009. The Gauchos are the first team to enter as a fifth seed and win the tournament.
UCSB won in consecutive doubles matches to capture the doubles point and won three more singles matches en route their 8th Big West title in school history and an NCAA tournament berth. The men's tennis team is the first UCSB team to win a Big West title this year and the first to qualify for an NCAA tournament. The Gauchos improved their record to 12-13 overall and sent the Tigers home with a 16-9 record on the season.
The Gauchos dominated in doubles with wins at courts 1 and 2. UCSB's No. 1 doubles pair, Mbonisi Ndimande/Ziad Sultan, led with an 8-3 victory against the Tiger's Verbeek/Stolyarov and Benjamin Recknagel/Axel Bouillin sealed the doubles point for the Gauchos with an 8-5 win at court 2. Play at court 3 was suspended after the Gauchos took the 1-0 lead.
Senior Benjamin Recknagel added to the Gauchos' lead with a victory in straight sets at the No. 2 position, defeating Alex Golding 6-2, 6-2. The Tigers battled back to tie the match at 2 points each with wins at courts 3 and 5. Pacific's Ben Mirkin topped Sasha Gryaznov 6-1, 6-4 at court 5 and Axel Bouillin was defeated 7-6(5), 6-2 at the No. 3 position.
Freshman Jacob Johnson put the Gauchos back ahead with a three set victory against Alex Hamilton at the No. 6 court. Johnson won the first set 7-5 but dropped the next set 4-6 to his Pacific counterpart. The freshman bounced back in the third set and eased to a 6-0 win to put the Gauchos one point away from the Big West title.
Sophomore Ziad Sultan clinched the 4-2 victory and the Big West Championship title for the Gauchos with a win in straight sets 7-6(1), 6-4 at court 4 against Daniel Alameh.
"Ziad and Benny were players of the day," said Head Coach Marty Davis. "Ziad was fantastic in doubles and won the clincher. Benny won in doubles and was first off the court in singles."
UCSB now awaits their seed and opponent for the NCAA tournament with first and second round matches beginning May 10-12.
(5) UCSB 4, (3) Pacific 2
1. Ndimande/Sultan (UCSB) def. Verbeek/Stolyarov (PAC) 8-3
2. Recknagel/Bouillin (UCSB) def. Golding/Hamilton (PAC) 8-5
3. Riminton/Seemann (UCSB) vs. Alameh/Mirkin (PAC) DNF
1. Mbonisi Ndimande (UCSB) vs. Sem Verbeek (PAC) DNF
2. Benjamin Recknagel (UCSB) def. Alex Golding (PAC) 6-2, 6-2
3. Denis Stolyarov (PAC) def. Axel Bouillin (UCSB) 7-6 (5), 6-2
4. Ziad Sultan (UCSB) def. Daniel Alameh (PAC) 7-6(1), 6-4
5. Ben Mirkin (PAC) def. Sasha Gryaznov (UCSB) 6-1, 6-4
6. Jacob Johnson (UCSB) def. Alex Hamilton (PAC) 7-5, 4-6, 6-0
Order of Finish: Doubles (1, 2); Singles (2, 5, 3, 6, 4)