Gauchos Set to Kickoff 2017 UCSB Classic

Simon Freund (Photo by Mike Nesbit)
Simon Freund (Photo by Mike Nesbit)

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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — After having athletes participate at separate tournaments a couple of weeks ago, the UC Santa Barbara men's tennis team continues its season by hosting its annual UCSB Classic this weekend.

The Gauchos will be hosting great players from powerhouse programs such as the Pac-12's University of Washington, Cal, UCLA and Stanford while also having athletes from Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, St. Mary's, Cal Poly, Fresno State, and Pacific.

Flight A of the tournament will feature three of UCSB's premier players this year in senior Simon Freund, junior Anders Holm, and sophomore Nicolas Moreno de Alboran.

"Last year was the first year we won this tournament so if we could repeat that it would be impressive considering the field and this being the best field," Head Coach Marty Davis said. "Everyone in this flight is a 13+ UTR and will be the flight to watch."

All three will be looking to follow up their great performances from their season debuts with Freund nearly taking home the Consolation title at the ITA Oracle Masters and the Moreno de Alboran/Holm's pair finishing second in the doubles portion of the Battle in the Bay and also winning some singles matches individually.

Freund will be facing Stanford's Jack Barber, Holm will take on Washington's Enzo Sommer and Moreno de Alboran will compete against Washington's Joao Barra.

Flight B of the Classic will also be exciting as it features two of the four freshmen from the highly touted 21st nationally ranked recruiting class according to tennisrecruiting.net in Henrik Atlevi and Ajai Shekhera.

Atlevi, a Sweden native, was ranked as high as 240th in the ITF Junior rankings, 3rd in the Sweden Junior rankings and 1st in the Sectional Junior rankings.

Before coming to UCSB, Atlevi also won doubles titles in ITF events in Estonia, Sweden, and Norway. California-born Shekhera was a five-star recruit and was a Top-50 recruit when he signed with UCSB. They will be facing St. Mary's Nash Vollenweider and Washington's Piers Foley, respectively.

"Ajai has been very good in practice when healthy and Henrik has been healthy and is progressing rapidly," Davis said. "They will both have nerves tomorrow but they are both capable of great things."

Flight C and Flight D will feature freshman California natives, Joseph Rotheram and Daunte Harris, respectively. Rotheram will face off against Washington's Kawika Lam while Harris will have a bye to start the tournament meaning his play will not start until Saturday evening.   

In the doubles portion of the tournament, Flight A will feature a brand new pair in Holm and Freund. Freund has won two doubles titles before with different partners and will be hoping to make it his third with Holm who is ranked 124th in the country in singles.

"Nic and Anders we know what they are capable of and we wanted to give Simon a chance to win this tournament and get his hat trick," Davis said. "In a tradition doubles sense they are probably the best doubles players we have and I am not sure if they are who we want when we get to dual meets but I think they are going to be a very good pair."

The other three flights will feature never before seen duos as well with Flight B having Moreno de Alboran with Shekhera, Flight C having Atlevi and Rotheram and Flight D featuring Harris with UCLA's Connor Rapp.

With the combination of the trio returners that have already enjoyed success this season as well as the excitement of watching a new era of UCSB men's tennis unfold, the anticipation level is high along with hope for seeing a couple of those titles staying home in Santa Barbara.

"I am excited to see how the three guys at the top do and how the freshman come out in their debuts, it is a very exciting time," Davis said.

The UCSB Classic begins Friday, Oct. 6 at 12 p.m. with the doubles portion of the tournament and runs through Sunday, Oct. 8.

Flight A of the tournament will take place at the Recreation Center Courts while Flights B and C of the Classic will be taking place at the Rob Gym Courts and the D flight taking place at the Stadium Courts.