LOS ANGELES, Calif. — In day two of the Southern California Intercollegiate things did not get much better for the UC Santa Barbara men's tennis team as senior Simon Freund was bounced from the tournament along with doubles pair Chase Masciorini and freshman Ajai Shekhera.
Unlike his other three teammates, Freund was given a bid to participate in the Main Draw of the singles open and showed why earning a victory in his first match over UC Irvine's Bruce Man-Son-Hing, 6-3, 6-1.
Freund was expected to get past his opening match, however, the intrigue for him came in the Round of 16 where, as expected, he had a clash with top-seeded Brandon Holt from USC. Holt is also ranked 11th in the nation according to the Oracle ITA's preseason standings. He blanked his opening round opponent, Ethan Prost of LMU, 6-0, 6-0.
"Brandon Holt is very good, he deserved to be No. 1 seed and he showed why today," Head Coach Marty Davis.
Knowing this, Freund knew he would have a tough match, however, he expressed he never backs down from the competition. Unfortunately for him, Holt was too strong earning the straight set victory, 6-2, 6-2 to advance to the quarterfinals.
"I think the encouraging thing for Simon is his ability to attack the net has improved rapidly," Davis said. "His game is developing and we can see the progress he has made so far."
With the loss, Freund's tournament run has ended in singles, however, he will be playing alongside redshirt freshman Joseph Rotheram in the main draw doubles open tomorrow with the opponent to be determined.
Another UCSB pair was in action today in the qualifying open doubles, however, Shekhera and Masciorini failed to win their Round of 16 match against a BYU duo losing in a tiebreaker 8-7 (4).
It has been a rough go of it for the senior as Masciorini in two tournaments so far this season he has only picked up one victory in both singles and doubles combined while also including consolation matches.
"He's struggling, has had some physical issues and now he isn't playing with the confidence needed to win," Davis said. "But we are still confident in him to turn this around."
For the freshman Shekhera, he hasn't always fared much better but it is clear he is learning to play the way UCSB needs him too and that he has made small strides in the three tournaments he has played.
"Ajai is definitely getting a feel for how we play doubles here at UCSB," Davis said. "It's still early for Ajai in his UCSB career and we still need a bit more time to identify where we want to place him to help us out and help him improve."
The So Cal Intercollegiate continues Saturday, October 28 with Freund/Rotheram in the main draw of the open doubles and Shekhera and Rotheram participating in the consolation open singles.