Jan. 21, 2009
January 23, 2009 at 1:00 p.m.
No. 62 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 70 Brigham Young University
at the UCSB Recreation Center Courts
January 24, 2009 at 1:00 p.m.
No. 62 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 37 Boise State University
at the UCSB Recreation Center Courts
The UC Santa Barbara men's tennis team will kick off the 2009 campaign ranked 62nd in the first National Rankings of the season released by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association earlier this month. Last year, the Gauchos climbed as high as 56th in the national scene and finished the season ranked No. 58. They will open their season at home this weekend clashing against two premier teams in the nation: No. 70 BYU and No. 37 Boise State.
On Friday, January 23, UC Santa Barbara will start their season off against No. 70 BYU. The Cougars defeated the visiting Gauchos last year 6-1 on Apr. 15. BYU has started the season hot, winning their first two matches against Utah State and Weber State. Before the Cougars scuffle with UCSB, they will have to face No. 4 UCLA on Thursday. They will then finish their three match California road trip at UC Irvine on Saturday.
The following day, UC Santa Barbara will take the court against No. 37 Boise State at the UCSB Recreation Center courts. The Broncos already have their first win in the bag from last Sunday's win vs. Oregon. In last year's showdown, Boise State shut out Santa Barbara 7-0 on Apr. 21. Revenge will be tough for the Gauchos as the Broncos boast three ITA national singles players, including Clancy Shields ranked at No. 22.
Coach Davis makes it a Decade
Marty Davis will be in his tenth season as the head coach for the UC Santa Barbara men's tennis team. In 2008, Davis earned the top coaching honor for the third straight year and fifth time overall. He led the Gauchos to an overall mark of 15-10 and a Big West co-regular season title. Davis also guided UCSB to its third consecutive tournament title after the Gauchos defeated Cal Poly and Pacific at the Big West Championships. The title qualified UCSB for the NCAA Championship for the fifth time under Davis.
Junior star Philip Therp will be returning to the line-up this year protecting his Big West Player of the Year honor after last year's bolstering performance. He led his team in the tough No. 1 slot during the second half of the season and into the Big West tournament, tallying an even 7-7 record. The Gaucho veteran will share the reigns of team captain with Josh Finkelstein as the two look to improve upon their 15-10 performance from last year's Big West Championship squad.
Another returnee for the Gauchos who is coming off of a successful year is sophomore Alex Konigsfeldt. In 2008, Konigsfeldt established himself as one of the best freshmen players in the Big West Conference, garnering a First Team All-Big West honor in doubles and honorable mention recognition in singles. Now a sophomore, the native of Bedbaek, Denmark, played mostly at the No. 4 position where he recorded a 13-9 overall record. In doubles, he posted an outstanding 15-8 dual match record.
Junior Josh Finkelstein, Konigsfeldt's doubles partner and key returnee for the Gauchos, will also fill a huge leadership role for the young UCSB squad. He is honored this year's co-captain, alongside Therp. Last year, Finkelstein recorded a 14-8 doubles mark, earning him First Team All-Big West recognition.
Senior Max Taylor was also a key ingredient in last year's successful run to the NCAA Tournament. Taylor excelled at the bottom half of the lineup, notching a team best 13-5 singles record. With the record, the native of Fresno, Calif., earned Most Improved Player accolades from his teammates and has a chance to step into a higher slot this year as the team's only senior.
Two other returnees vying for playing time in 2009 are Scott Hohenstein and Taylor Chavez Goggin. Hohenstein, who has been sidelined the past two years with a variety of injuries, returned to the court in the fall and recorded his first tournament title at the Bulldog Classic in Fresno. He looks to be a bright spot for the Gauchos and will fill a veteran role in the early part of the season. Goggin also enjoyed tournament success during the off-season, winning the ITA Western Summer Circuit and is making a case for a starting position this spring.
Davis has brought in Andrew Benson, Nick Caledonia, Mathieu Forget, Alex Gushner, Evan Jurgensen and Devin Nerenberg to help fill the rest of the lineup. Nerenberg and Caledonia have shown flashes of excellence as both took home titles at the UCSB Classic in the fall. The two newcomers went undefeated as Nerenberg took the Flight "F" title while Caledonia came away with the Flight "H" title. However, with the short fall season, the newcomers have yet to showcase their full potential.
Rough Road Ahead
The men of blue and yellow will have a tough schedule this year, competing against nine nationally ranked teams including this weekend's match-ups against No. 70 BYU and No. 37 Fresno State. The toughest match will be against No. 25 California on Feb. 15. UCSB's schedule evens out with No. 42 New Mexico (2/7), No. 63 Irvine (2/27), No. 43 SMU (3/8), No. 41 Fresno State (3/29), No. 57 San Diego State (4/4) and No. 54. San Diego (4/5). With the schedule, the Gauchos will have plenty of opportunities to showcase their talent and dig further into the national spotlight.