SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Five straight wins is what the UC Santa Barbara men's tennis team is currently celebrating right now following an absolutely nail-biting match against No. 50 Loyola Marymount ending in a 4-3 win for the Gauchos despite falling behind 3-1.
For UCSB (13-6 overall, 2-0 Big West), Tuesday's match was a huge confidence boost to a team that was already hot coming in. Defeating LMU (15-3) is a huge accomplishment for the Gauchos not just because it is their second road win of the season but it snapped the previous 12-match winning streak the Lions had going for them.
Two weeks ago, Santa Barbara was unsure of its season but since the Winter Finals break, it has tallied a 5-1 record and has squeaked out two 4-3 victories something it had not done in the earlier part of the campaign going 0-3 in matches decided by a point.
The doubles point is always huge but in a 4-3 match, it literally could be the difference maker. Like it has been doing over the last 10-plus matches, UCSB held strong and stole the opening point.
LMU's Diego Nava and Errol Smith were the first pair to get a win as they defeated UCSB's freshman Victor Krustev and sophomore Joseph Guillin, 6-4. Moments later Santa Barbara's senior Simon Freund and redshirt freshman Joseph Rotheram knotted things up with a 6-4 win of their own.
With the split, this meant the doubles point would come down to the winner at the No. 1 court, but luckily the Gauchos have junior duo Anders Holm and Nicolas Moreno de Alboran who won their fourth match in their last five outings with a 6-3 win today to give their team the 1-0 lead.
Despite the early confidence, the Lions were not taken aback and stayed poised when singles play began as they tried to steal the game from the 'Chos.
Early on, the match was very much even as in the first sets Santa Barbara won at the top three courts while Loyola Marymount won the bottom three.
Krustev was the first to lose for UCSB as he took a 6-4, 6-2 loss against LMU's Nick Borchenko whose 15-1 singles record is the best mark on the team. Meanwhile, the Lions would go on to take the lead at 2-1 following a 6-1, 6-4 win over Rotheram on court six.
LMU really put the pressure on UCSB after it picked up yet another win, this time on court four over Holm to be within just point from winning its 13th-straight match.
Luckily, Santa Barbara has weapons of its own and it put them to good use. Arguably the Gauchos best player all season, sophomore transfer Guillin, came up huge yet again a 6-4, 7-5 win to keep the match alive. The former Florida Gator has now won 15 of his last 16 and is putting a new streak together with three.
Over on court three, UCSB's senior captain certainly had his hands full. Being the only match that was pushed to three sets, Freund hung in strong and pulled out his fourth straight win defeating LMU's Smith, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 on court three.
With the match tied at three, it would again come down to the winner at the top court. At the time Freund's match was over, Moreno de Alboran held a slim 5-4 lead in the second. Having won the first set 6-4, the New York native needed to just take the set to give his team the win.
Moreno de Alboran has also been streaking as of late. Despite falling six slots in the recent ITA rankings, the junior came into this match winning four straight. The New York native went back and forth with the Lions' Gabriel Diaz Freire eventually leading to a tiebreaker in the second set.
Earlier this season, UCSB lost to the University of San Diego 4-3 after losing the final match on court six. Despite it not being Moreno de Alboran he had stated that he wished it was him in that position, to carry the burden of winning on his shoulder. After getting his wish on Tuesday, he did not disappoint taking the tiebreak 7-6 (3).
With that, Santa Barbara was the victor 4-3 and all of a sudden the season that at one point felt a little disappointing with the constant road losses is all coming together at the right time.
All season long UCSB knew it could win at home which is evident by its 10-0 record in Santa Barbara, however, the road losses were worrisome for everyone involved.
Well, since the Gauchos upset then No. 49 Washington in Seattle for its first road win of the season this team has had serious momentum and today's win proved that they are a different team, and one that has taken a turn for the better, and that is a scary thought.
UCSB continues its season on Friday, April 13th at 1:30 p.m. at the Rec Cen Courts for its home finale/senior day against UC Davis. A reminder that fans wearing their UCSB shirts will get free pizza at the match.
Follow @UCSBTennis for daily content as well as to keep up to date with the team!
UC Santa Barbara vs LMU (Apr 10, 2018)
UC Santa Barbara 4, #50 LMU 3
Apr 10, 2018, at Los Angeles, Calif. (LMU Tennis Center)
1. #85 N. Moreno de Alboran (UCSB) def. Gabriel Diaz Freire(LMU) 6-4, 7-6 (7-3)
2. Joseph Guillin (UCSB) def. Lukas Moenter (LMU) 6-4, 7-5
3. Simon Freund (UCSB) def. Errol Smith (LMU) 6-2, 3-6, 6-1
4. Lucas Moreno (LMU) def. Anders Holm (UCSB) 6-1, 6-4
5. Nick Borchenko (LMU) def. Victor Krustev (UCSB) 6-4, 6-2
6. Diego Nava (LMU) def. Joseph Rotheram (UCSB) 6-1, 6-4
1. N. Moreno de Alboran/Anders Holm (UCSB) def. Gabriel Diaz Freire/Nick Borchenko (LMU) 6-3
2. Simon Freund/Joseph Rotheram (UCSB) def. Charles Boyce/Lukas Moenter (LMU) 6-4
3. Diego Nava/Errol Smith (LMU) def. Joseph Guillin/Victor Krustev (UCSB) 6-4
UC Santa Barbara 13-6
LMU 15-3; National ranking #50
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (5,6,4,2,3,1)