SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Following another perfect weekend at home, the UC Santa Barbara men's tennis team will be looking to obtain it's first road win of the season and will get two cracks at that with matches against No. 40 Utah and No. 48 New Mexico this weekend.
UCSB (5-2) was recently ranked as the No. 53 team in the country according to the ITA rankings and wins against two top-50 teams will continually help improve that ranking. Last season, the Gauchos finished ranked No. 37.
Due to weather conditions, the matches will likely be moved indoors and, of course, will be played at an altitude of 5,300 feet. This will be a true test of the Gauchos' ability to adapt and win on the road.
"The upcoming matches will be very challenging as we'll be trying to adjust to playing indoors at 5,300 ft of altitude. Huge adaptation needed if we want to pull out some tough wins," Head Coach Marty Davis said.
As if the conditions weren't challenging enough, UCSB's two opponents this week are just as tough. Utah (12-1) has won seven straight matches and even defeated fellow Big West opponent UC Irvine, 6-1.
New Mexico (5-3) recently lost 6-1 to Santa Clara. Last season, UCSB and New Mexico fought right until the very end with the Gauchos coming out the victor, 4-3, thanks to a court five victory in the end.
Junior Nicolas Moreno de Alboran remained ranked as he now stands at No. 114 in the country. Currently, the New York native is 4-2 on the year, and recently picked up a big win in doubles alongside fellow junior Anders Holm as they upset the then No. 24 pair in the country from Pacific in last weekend's 5-2 win over the Tigers. He also had two game-clinching singles wins last week.
Moreno De Alboran will have his hands full on court one when he likely takes on junior Dan Little for the Utes.
Another notable UCSB player is sophomore transfer Joseph Guillin who has won five consecutive singles matches, and owns the best singles record on the team with a 6-1 mark.
Senior Simon Freund will also look to pick up big wins this week as he is coming off two wins in both singles and doubles against USF and Pacific.
Like Utah, New Mexico boasts strong players as well. The No. 103 player in the country, junior Ricky Hernandez Tong, has really stepped up and into a strong leadership role this season.
Overall, for Santa Barbara, two wins this weekend against quality teams will show just how strong this team is. A No. 53 ranking seems a bit low for a team as stacked as this, and wins against Utah and New Mexico will help show that.
UCSB takes on Utah at noon on Saturday, Feb. 24 at the McKinnen Tennis Center.
The Gauchos will then play New Mexico on Sunday at the same place and location.