ORLANDO, Fla. - UC Santa Barbara saw its 2018-19 campaign officially come to an end on Wednesday night following co-captains' Nicolas Moreno de Alboran and Anders Holm exit from the NCAA doubles tournament after a 1-6, 6-4, 5-10 loss. The senior couplet lost to Tennessee's Stodder/Touliatos.
"The guys played well today but that pair from Tennessee returned extremely well. I mean that first set they just really ran away with it but Nic and Ders fought back and even had an opportunity in the tiebreak but fell short. I am proud of them," Head Coach Marty Davis said.
In the first set, Tennessee's pair just roughed through the Gauchos jumping out to an early lead and easily taking a 6-1 win. In the second set, Moreno de Alboran and Holm broke their opponents and 2-2, then held to take a 4-2 lead.
Stodder and Touliatos fought back to tie it at 4-4 but again the Gaucho pair broke their opponents and held to take the 6-4 lead.
In the final set, UCSB raced out to a 4-1 lead in the tiebreak and really looked like they could get the upset win over the seeded Vols pair. Unfortunately, the Tennessee couplet won the next eight points to take a 9-4 lead and eventually take the win 10-5.
Moreno de Alboran/Holm finish the season winning 10 of their final 12 matches and were ranked as high as No. 64 this season. They finished with an overall record of 16-10 and were 12-7 at the No. 1 spot.
They will also go down in history as the first pair at UCSB to win a match at the NCAA Doubles Championships at the Division I level.
"They both meant a lot to this program. They are best friends, they are great competitors, and they were great co-captains. We will miss them but they pushed this program forward in so many ways that we are thankful for their contributions," Davis said.
Overall, Santa Barbara accomplished a lot this season. After starting the season 3-4, this Gaucho team pulled themselves together to win 14 of their final 17 matches to finish 17-7. The final ITA rankings have UCSB finished at No. 38 in the country, by far the highest of any Big West team.
The Gauchos also won their first NCAA tournament match since 1998 this season and junior Joseph Guillin became the fourth UCSB athlete, and sixth win overall, to earn a win at the NCAA Singles Championships.
Point is, UCSB accomplished a lot this season but there is still much too look forward to.
"We made a lot of history this year and I am happy overall with this season. We could still do a lot of things better. We have to take advantage of our non-conference matches and we have to keep progressing towards our next goal, the Sweet 16," Davis said.
For Davis, his 20th year ends with his first NCAA Tournament win as head coach of the Gauchos. Still, he is not done.
"When I first started here I just wanted to make sure that men's tennis never went away. Because of many reasons, men's tennis is usually a program that is in danger of being cut. So I focused a lot on fundraising and we have built a program the right way that has a lot to look forward too. We have a new stadium on the way. Things really look exciting and now Blake and I really just want to reach the Sweet 16. That is the next step," Davis said.
UCSB ends its season 17-7 overall winning its fifth-straight Big West tournament title, a league record.