No. 3 Seeded Gauchos Set to Face UC Riverside in First Round of Big West Tournament

Ziad Sultan
Ziad Sultan

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The No. 3 Gauchos (8-13, 3-1) are set to take on the No. 6 seeded UC Riverside Highlanders (2-21, 0-5) in the first round of the Big West Tournament on Thursday, April 24 in Indian Wells, Calif. The winner of the match advances to the semifinals against No. 2 seed, Cal Poly, on Friday at 3 p.m.

Last year, the Gauchos entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed and upset Hawai'i, UC Irvine and Pacific on their way to winning their 8th Big West title in school history.

This season, Santa Barbara will begin the tournament as the No. 3 seed after finishing the season 8-13 overall and 3-1 in conference play.  The Gauchos drew the No. 6 Highlanders, who closed the season on a six-match losing streak to finish the season with a 2-21 overall record, including a 0-5 record in Big West action. In their previous meeting, the Gauchos rolled past UC Riverside in a 7-0 sweep.

Leading the Gauchos will be junior Tobias Galskov, who finished the season 14-6 with a 10-4 record playing at the No. 1 position. Galskov missed the last match due to illness but the Gauchos hope he will be cleared to play in his first Big West tournament. Playing behind Galskov will be veteran Ziad Sultan, who enters the tournament riding a three-match winning streak, and Sasha Gryaznov at the No. 3 position.

At the bottom of the lineup will be freshmen Erik Johnsson and Teague Hamilton, who have stepped up to the challenge of conference play in their debut seasons by winning all of their Big West singles matches and have been a stable presence at the No. 4 and No 5 positions. Johnsson ended the season on a four-match winning streak and an 11-9 overall record while Hamilton has won nine of his last ten matches, including his last five consecutively, to finish the dual season 14-7.

Junior Miles Seemann rounds out the lineup at the No. 6 position with a 7-5 record.

UC Riverside is led by Luis Gastao, playing at the No. 1 spot and Cooper Bridge, who leads the team with nine dual victories after splitting time between the No. 1-4 positions.

UC Santa Barbara's title defense begins at 9 a.m. at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Thursday.

Projected match-ups:

Doubles: UCSB – UC Riverside (record by position)

1. Galskov/Sultan (7-2) vs. Bridge/Carella (4-13)
2. Johnsson/Seemann (6-4) vs. Felich/Vizcarra (1-6)
3. Hamilton/Riminton (10-8) vs. Gastao/Robles (4-6)

Singles: UCSB – UC Riverside (record by position)

1. Tobias Galskov (10-4) vs. Luis Gastao (1-15)
2. Ziad Sultan (7-7) vs. Cooper Bridge (3-5)
3. Sasha Gryaznov (5-15) vs. Marcus Vizcarra (0-3)
4. Erik Johnsson (6-9) vs. Julian Ruffin (0-2)
5. Teague Hamilton (10-3) vs. Jack Felich (0-2)
6. Miles Seemann (7-5) vs. Sean Yun (1-9)

Tournament Schedule

First Round: April 24
No. 3 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 6 UC Riverside (9:00 AM)
No. 4 UC Davis vs. No. 5 UC Irvine (9:00 AM)
Semifinals: April 25
No. 1 Hawai'i vs. No. 4/No. 5 winner (3:00 PM)
No. 2 Cal Poly vs. No. 3/No. 6 winner (3:00 PM)

Championships: April 27
Semifinal winners (9:00 AM)