SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara had not lost a match at the Rec Cen courts since March of 2017 heading into Sunday's home opener against the University of San Diego, however, a strong effort from the Toreros led to a 5-2 victory over the Gauchos.
"Nobody gave up but what I didn't like is that we allowed opponents to go on five-game runs a lot so we have to work on stopping our opponents momentum a lot sooner than that because if not the next thing you know a lead is gone," Head Coach Marty Davis said.
With the loss, UCSB (3-2) has now been bested the last two years by USD (4-2) who's hopes of earning an ITA Top 25 ranking might come through after a big road win.
Doubles has been an important deciding factor in most games for the Gauchos, especially in close matches against tough teams. And today was no exception considering USD had the No. 28 ranked duo in the country playing at the top court in August Holmgren and Joel Gamerov.
Despite that, senior co-captains Nicolas Moreno de Alboran and Anders Holm were not fazed and played possibly the best outing of their season besting the No. 28 duo 6-1. In fact, all teams came out strong to start doubles for UCSB. Behind an energetic crowd, the Gauchos went up 3-0 on all courts. Still, court three made up of Joseph Guillin and Alex Dominguez Soto could not hold on losing their match 6-4.
That meant the doubles point would come down to the match on court two between Santa Barbara's Victor Krustev/Joseph Rotheram and USD's Nico Borter/Gui Osorio. Despite USD making a push and getting the match to 4-3, UCSB would pull away winning the doubles point after a 6-4 win on court two.
Up 1-0 against a team like USD is huge, especially considering the talent UCSB has at the top half of its lineup boasting three nationally ranked players.
Guillin, playing his first match at the No. 1 position this season and ranked No. 25 nationally, put an absolute beating on USD's best player, Holmgren, 6-0, 6-1. He moves to 4-1 on the season and put UCSB up 2-0.
From there, however, nothing went right for the Gauchos. First, Holm would lose on court five 6-1, 6-4 despite a valiant effort to stay alive in the match. In fact, that seemed to be the mantra for the day for the Gauchos. No players rolled over, but they could not turn on that switch to turn the tide.
Down 2-1, USD tied the match after Borter bested Rotheram, who is really struggling to start the year as he is now 0-3, in straight sets 7-5, 6-4. Moments later, USD would take the lead after a win on court six when David Norfeldt defeated Hironori Koyanagi 6-3, 7-5.
With the match near its conclusion, it was up to Krustev, ranked No. 87 overall, to try to push his match to three sets and keep the Gauchos alive while Moreno de Alboran was battling in his third set on court two. Krustev was up 6-5, but could not put away his opponent and in the tiebreaker, the sophomore could not come through losing the match 7-5, 7-6 (1) leading to a win for USD.
Moments later, despite the match being decided, court two still finished but unfortunately, it resulted in Moreno de Alboran's second loss of the season after being bested in three sets 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 and USD's 5-2 win. What hurts more is Moreno de Alboran was up a break in the second set at 4-3 with serve. After being broken, Osorio then won his serve, took a 5-4 lead and really took over the match.
Overall, this loss hurts for UCSB. The Gauchos do not have many opportunities throughout the year to earn big statement wins, especially at home. However, if there is one thing UCSB showed today was resiliency, and now it will be time for UCSB to take that on the road.
"We don't get this many opportunities to play a team and beat a team that is right in our wheelhouse and at home. I am disappointed we could not get it done, but we had a great crowd and we had some good moments and we will move on," Head Coach Marty Davis said.
UCSB's next match is against Drake University on Feb. 10 in Des Moines, Iowa. Follow @UCSBTennis for any and all updates regarding your Gauchos.
UC Santa Barbara 2, San Diego 5
Feb. 10, 2019 / Santa Barbara, California
Rec Cen Courts
1) Moreno de Alboran/Holm (UCSB) def. Holmgren/Gamerov (USD) 6-1
2) Krustev/Rotheram vs. Borter/Osorio 6-4*
3) Guillin/Dominguez loss Koevermans/Norfeldt 4-6
1) #25 Guillin (UCSB) def. Holmgren (USD): 6-0, 6-1
2) #9 Moreno de Alboran vs. Osorio: 6-3, 5-7, 1-6
3) #87 Krustev vs. Gamerov: 5-7, 6-7 (1)*
4) Rotheram (UCSB) vs. Borter (USD): 5-7, 4-6
5) Holm (UCSB) vs. Koevermans (USD): 1-6, 4-6
6) Koyanagi (UCSB) vs. Norfeldt (USD): 3-6, 5-7