MALIBU, Calif. — Appearing in UC Santa Barbara's first ITA Southwest Regional Singles Championship match, junior Nicolas Moreno de Alboran fell short of a storybook finish, losing in three sets to Arizona State's Benjamin Hannestad.
"You know, I was super happy with the tennis Nic played today, it was very high level," Head Coach Marty Davis said. "But at the end of the day, Hannestad served better and that was probably the difference."
The New York native was in for a battle facing Hannestad who, before taking part in the singles match, had claimed the doubles title alongside his partner, Tim Ruehl.
In the singles match, Moreno de Alboran put up a tremendous effort, continuing to try to counter every one of his opponents serves but he could not get the job done losing by a final tally of 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
Despite the loss, Moreno de Alboran still received an invitation to the ITA National Fall Championships located in Indian Wells, California, also the site of the Big West Tournament, for the first time in program history.
"This was definitely good news and we are all super excited Nic gets to go the ITA Championships," Davis said. "They used to be in New York as the ITA Indoors Championships but now its here at Indian Wells. The move allows them to extend the draws and have more kids participate and Nic was one of the guys who got invited as one of the top 64 players in the country."
Last season, the doubles pair of Morgan Mays and senior Simon Freund received an invitation and did well winning two matches before ultimately losing in the quarterfinals.
With now two straight seasons of having someone represent them in the ITA National Championships, it is clear that even with the loss today, this Santa Barbara program has made great strides and is here to stay.
"When you think of the strength of this regional, with UCLA, USC and now Arizona State who looks like a powerhouse this year, being able to get someone to the finals this year is a huge deal for our program," Davis said.
"And when you factor in Nic getting invited this year, our doubles pair last year, it signals that this program is continuing to progress to the point where we hope next year we could have a singles player and a doubles pair go," Davis said.
However, it is also clear there is still much work to be done before they can become a national powerhouse on the level of some of these other great west coast teams such as UCLA, USC, etc.
"Our goal is still to reach a Sweet 16 as a team, these fall tournaments give us evidence that we are good and it is a realistic goal and now we have to make it happen," Davis, in his 19th season as Head Coach, said. "This has been a long-term project and the community support and fundraising success have been a huge factor in us being able to get this program where it is today."
Moreno de Alboran will be back in action for the ITA National Fall Championships beginning Thursday, November 2.
Four UC Santa Barbara athletes will be taking part much sooner at the Southern California Intercollegiate beginning on Thursday, October 26.