No. 42 Gauchos Host No. 44 Cal Poly for Big West Crown Saturday

Morgan Mays (pictured) and Teague Hamilton will play their final home match on Saturday when UCSB hosts rival Cal Poly for the Big West outright regular season title. The match is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at the Recreation Center Courts. (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Morgan Mays (pictured) and Teague Hamilton will play their final home match on Saturday when UCSB hosts rival Cal Poly for the Big West outright regular season title. The match is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at the Recreation Center Courts. (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UCSB-Cal Poly Blue-Green rivalry is one of the most intense in the Big West Conference and in no sport is it stronger than men's tennis. On Saturday, the 42nd-ranked Gauchos and 44th-ranked Mustangs will square-off in Santa Barbara for the outright regular season league title, a No. 1 seed in the Big West Tournament and potentially an NCAA Tournament bid.

The match is scheduled to start at 2:00 p.m. on UCSB's Recreation Center Courts. 

"The two best teams in the conference meeting in the last match of the season with winner going to the Big Dance," said head coach Marty Davis. "Senior day against the best Cal Poly team in history. It simply doesn't get any better." 

UCSB (16-5 overall, 4-0 in the Big West) will enter Saturday's showdown with a nine-match winning streak. Cal Poly (16-6, 3-1) has won two straight and 10 of its last 11.

The Mustangs are led by Ben Donovan, the highest ranked player in the conference at No. 113. Their doubles tandem of Donovan and Corey Pang is ranked 55th nationally. 

The Gauchos have several players who are playing well as individuals. Anders Holm and Cody Rakela have each gone 17-4 in dual matches with Rakela is riding a nine-match winning streak and Holm an eight-match streak. Simon Freund is 15-6, Morgan Mays and Chase Masciorini are each 13-8, while while Nicolas Moreno de Alboran has gone 12-8. 

In doubles, the duo of Mays and Freund has gone 10-4 in dual matches at No. 1. They are currently ranked 29th in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings but reached as high as No. 9. Mays and Moreno de Alboran have competed together three times in dual matches and gone 2-1. Freund and Holm are 3-0. Holm and Moreno de Alboran are 11-6 during the dual season with the 11 victories the most of any Gaucho doubles team. 

The UCSB-Cal Poly match will be a rematch of the 2016 Big West Tournament championship match which was won by the Gauchos, 4-1. In fact, they have won the last three meetings between the programs, having won 5-2 in San Luis Obipso during the 2016 regular season and 6-1 in Santa Barbara in 2015. The Mustangs last win came in the semifinals of the 2014 Big West Tournament. 

Saturday will also mark the final home match for Mays and Teague Hamilton.

Mays, the Team Captain for the last two seasons, has had an outstanding final campaign both on and off the court. He's won 22 singles matches, including 13 during the dual season. Along with Freund, he won the ITA Southwest Regional championship during the fall and then won a pair of matches, advancing to the quarter finals, at the prestigious ITA/USTA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships. In addition, Mays was UCSB's Big West Scholar Athlete of the Year and he is a nominee for the Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship and Leadership Award.

Hamilton has battled injuries during the dual match season. He returned in the team's last match to post a win against UC Riverside. Hamilton is also wrapping up an outstanding career. He has an all-time singles record of 56-30 as a Gaucho. His dual match record is 44-17 for a .721 winning percentage, one of the highest in school history. In 2014-15 he went 22-13 overall in singles and the 22 victories equaled the eighth most in school history.