SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The UC Santa Barbara men's tennis team was in action at two separate locations today as senior ace Nicolas Moreno de Alboran defeated two very tough ranked opponents to become the first Gaucho in history to advance to the semifinals of the ITA Oracle Masters.
"Today was a great day, Nic had two great wins against two very great players," Head Coach Marty Davis said. "The quality of tennis we saw today was great and Nic was fabulous."
To kick off the day, Moreno de Alboran faced off against No. 78 Aziz Kijametovic and for the second straight day was pushed to the brink in the first set.
In the first, the New York native held a very strong 74-first serve percentage (32/43) and a near perfect 91-second serve percentage (10/11). Moreno de Alboran also won 20/32 first serve points and saved 5/7 break points.
Conversely, Kijametovic held only a 59 first serve percentage and only saved 3/5 break points. The first four games each player broke each other serve and the rest of the match each player held. That is, until the final game, at 6-6, Moreno de Alboran took a quick lead and never looked back to win the first set 7-6 (5).
The second set was just as tough, but the senior held strong and took the match with a 7-5 victory in the set behind two strong aces and another strong showing with his serves.
After the win, Moreno de Alboran turned his attention to a familiar foe in USC's Daniel Cukierman. Despite not playing against him in last years NCAA First Round Dual Match between UCSB and USC, Moreno de Alboran knew he would be in for a tough match.
Cukierman, now entering his second season as a Trojan, is currently ranked No. 31 in the country, one slot ahead of UCSB's senior ace.
Moreno de Alboran and Cukierman played an exciting match with each trading 6-4 wins, the UCSB senior in first and Cukierman in the second. Heading into the third set, Moreno de Alboran looked to put away Cukierman. The New York native certainly started strong jumping out to a 5-1 lead in the third.
Moreno de Alboran had match points at 5-1 and 5-3, but just as he proved last season, Cukierman is a strong foe and fought them off to eventually push back to make the score 5-4. Luckily for UCSB, Moreno de Alboran pulled out the next game and won the final set 6-4.
"Huge wins for Nic today. He did a great job in the first match holding off a tough player from Old Dominion and then finally putting away a tough player who got away from us last year," Davis said. "I am just so happy about today that I want to enjoy tonight and then focus on tomorrow's match tomorrow."
With the win, Moreno de Alboran will now turn his attention to Christian Sigsgaard the No. 5 seed from Texas University. The only unfortunate thing for Moreno de Alboran is he had to withdraw from the mixed doubles semifinal after two tough three-set matches to rest up for tomorrow.
As a duo, the junior and sophomore tandem bested a pair from Cal-Berkely comprised of Bjorn Hoffmann and Yuta Kikuchi. The UCSB tandem pulled out a solid 8-6 win and will now face Jan Zielinski/Robert Loeb of Georgia University who had a first-round bye and are the third seed in this tournament. The match will be at 8:30 a.m.
Guillin, currently ranked No. 95 in the country, certainly held his own today earning two tough wins against some of the best young players in the country. The former Florida Gator first faced off against Michigan's Andrew Fenty in the first round defeating him in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4.
After the win, Guillin faced Stanford's Axel Geller in the Round of 32. Facing the No. 48 player in the country, Guillin pulled off a very impressive three-set victory with set scores of 3-6, 6-3, 1-0 (5). The junior will continue his run in the Round of 16 tomorrow against Cal's Jack Molloy who currently holds a No. 113 ranking. The match will take place at 9:30.
As for Krustev, things did not go so well in the singles portion of the tournament. After receiving a bye in the Round of 64, Krustev faced San Diego's Gui Osorio but was bested 6-3, 6-4. He then lost 6-3, 6-4 to USF's Nitzan Ricklis.
"Joe had two great wins today against guys that are ranked very highly in the junior rankings in the world. He battled against tough conditions up north and I am proud of him for fighting," Davis said. "Krustev didn't have the best day, but he picked up a good win in doubles and he will keep improving as the fall continues."
Moreno de Alboran will face Sigsgaard on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 3:30 p.m. while Guillin and Krustev will keep their run going at the Battle in the Bay classic.