SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Following a convincing 6-1 win against St. Mary's at home on Sunday, the UC Santa Barbara men's tennis team heads east to face Arizona university and earn its first road win of the season.
"We know Arizona is a step up from some of the teams we have faced this season and we still haven't won a road match so that is on our mind," Head Coach Marty Davis said. "We have to win a road match if we want to accomplish our goals this season."
The Gauchos (6-4) were origially scheduled to face the Wildcats on March 28th but due to schedule changes, the match will be played on Tuesday, March 6th. Arizona (11-5) has won five of its last six matches and is 3-0 against similar opponents to UCSB with wins of USF, St. Mary's and Frenso State.
The big storyline for UCSB come Tuesday afternoon will be whether or not senior captain Simon Freund takes the court with his fellow teammates. Freund is currently suffering through a groin injury and is listed as questionable for the match.
Santa Barbara was fine without its senior captain on Sunday in its win against St. Mary's to remain unbeaten at home.
Filling in for him in singles, sophomore transfer Joseph Guillin was great in his debut at the No. 2 court. The native Frenchman has won eight matches in a row including Sunday's 6-4, 6-1 win over SMC's Nash Vollenweider. Guillin owns the best mark on the team with a 9-1 record.
On the road this season, Moreno de Alboran has posted an 0-3 record in singles with two of them coming in straight sets. Currently ranked the No. 114 player in the country, the New York native must come big for his team in the No. 1 court.
Two of the 'Chos three road losses were 4-3 defeats, defeats that could've had a different outcome with a win at the top court.
The good news for Moreno de Alboran is that he is still one great tennis player. Despite his road woes, the junior has posted a 4-0 record at home and is coming off a huge win against one of the better singles players in the country, SMC's Damon Kesaris, in straight sets. Now, he just needs to take that momentum with him on the road.
"They are a really good team and it is a good chance to get not only our first road win of the season, but a quality win," Moreno de Alboran said. "I feel like even though we lost the last two games, we know we could compete against anyone in the country so we want to take the momentum from St. Mary's to Arizona and get a win."
Holm also played an intricate part in the 'Chos win. Playing in the No. 3 court, Holm earned an easy straight-set win and his confidence going into this match will be top notch.
As a doubles duo, Moreno de Alboran and Holm have also shown flashes of greatness this year from the No. 1 court. At one point they defeated the No. 24 ranked pair in the country from Pacific and were even ranked themselves at No. 44.
Though struggles have popped up from time to time, UCSB will need a big win on court one to try to take the doubles point especially if Freund, regarded as the best pure doubles player on the team, cannot go with usual teammate Joseph Rotheram at the No. 2 court.
Freshman Victor Krustev will also be an interesting play come Tuesday. The Canada native has won two matches in a row and is completely healed from injury. In his debut at the No. 4 spot this past weekend, he won convincingly, 6-0, 6-2.
"He is still so new here and so for him it's all about getting comfortable," Davis said. "He is still settling in and as he continues that he will get better and better. I am not surprised he is doing well."
Overall, Tuesday's match will be a big one for Santa Barbara. While this team is very good, it needs to get over the hump and win its first road game to truly show it is a complete team. If they have to do it without Freund it will be harder, but not impossible.
UCSB takes on Arizona at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6 at the Robson Tennis Center. Follow @UCSBtennis on twitter to keep up to date with the team.