SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Three members of the UC Santa Barbara men's tennis team were in action today, but the biggest storyline from them all was senior captain Nicolas Moreno de Alboran defeating Texas University's Christian Sigsgaard in three sets with scores of 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the Finals of the 2018 ITA Oracle Masters.
"The last three matches Nic has played are some of the best tennis I have seen. Today was a really gratifying win in that Nic's plan A did not work so he had to change tactics and the fact he was able to do so and execute in the match was absolutely great," Head Coach Marty Davis said.
The match was one to remember for the New York native as he had to do something he did not have to throughout this entire tournament: play from behind. In all four previous matches, Moreno de Alboran jumped out to a lead winning the first set but today, Sigsgaard was the one who took the first.
All tournament, Moreno de Alboran's strong serve, and forehand are what has been helping him earn victories, but Sigsgaard countered with an even more ferocious shot.
Losing the first set 6-2, and then finding himself down a break in the second, Moreno de Alboran knew he would have to switch tactics in order to win. He did just that, changing his style and going on a run to take the second set 7-5 and the final set 6-4. As one could imagine, the senior was pumped after the victory.
"Nic had to play a completely different style, one he does not play so the fact he was able to do it was gratifying not only for him but for me as a coach," Davis said.
With the win, Moreno de Alboran will now turn his attention to USC's Laurens Verboven who is currently ranked No. 81 in the country. To date, UCSB's senior ace has bested Verboven in each of their two total matchups.
Verbovens earned his spot in the men's singles final with a 7-5, 1-6, 6-2 victory over No. 8 Mitch Harper of Virginia Tech in the semifinals highlighting his high level of play throughout this tournament as well.
"Nic matches up well against him but obviously Laurens is playing very well and he has improved a lot since past matchups. He is very talented and a streaky player so Nic has to make sure to expose him when he can and try to take advantage of every opportunity," Davis said.
With a win tomorrow, Moreno de Alboran will get an automatic bid into the ITA National Fall Championships, a tournament he did earn a spot in last year. On top of that, a win against another USC player will only continue to show the growth of this program.
The match will take place tomorrow no earlier than 1:30 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN 3 with a re-air to happen on ESPNU at 2 p.m. PDT, on Monday, September 24th and Tuesday, September 25th.
Up north at the Battle in the Bay Classic, junior Joseph Guillin and sophomore Victor Krustev continued their run as a doubles duo as they faced the No. 1 pair in the country from Georgia comprised of Jan Zielinski and Robert Loeb. Unfortunately, the two were bested 8-4 by the Georgia duo ending their run.
In singles, Guillin earned a very impressive victory in the Round of 16 defeating Cal's top returner, Jack Molloy, in straight sets, 7-5, 7-6 (4). In his tournament run, Guillin defeated players from Michigan, Stanford, and Cal, all well off tennis programs.
Even more exciting, Guillin is the Gauchos second best player, according to rankings, and yet he is ranked higher and defeating top guys from other powerhouse universities highlighting even more that this program is certainly gaining some national status.
"Joe played great, I mean he had great wins and all but the really great thing is that Joe is winning these matches and getting better with each go-round," Davis said.
In the quarterfinals, Guillin faced TCU's Alex Rybakov. Rybakov is one of three Longed Horns ranked in the Top 125, but he has the highest as he is currently slotted at No. 10 in the country. The former Florida Gator put up a great challenge but ultimately lost 6-3, 6-2.
With the loss, UCSB's run at the Battle in the Bay has come to a close, but Moreno de Alboran will play his championship match on Sunday, Sept. 23. The match will take place tomorrow no earlier than 1:30 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN 3 with a re-air to happen on ESPNU at 2 p.m. PDT, on Monday, September 24th and Tuesday, September 25th.
Follow @UCSBTennis on Instagram and twitter for live updates.