MALIBU, Calif. – Senior ace Nicolas Moreno de Alboran began UC Santa Barbara's fall tournament schedule with an appearance at the 2018 Oracle ITA Masters and secured a very hard-fought victory defeating Northern Arizona's Tim Handel 7-6 (3), 6-1. He is the first Gaucho to win a main draw match at this prestigious tournament.
"He's come back from the summer and I see he is moving better and is in great condition. Nicolas has improved in all facets of this game and has just become more comfortable on the court and his knowledge has expanded so he looks great," Head Coach Marty Davis said.
Currently ranked No. 32 in the country, Moreno de Alboran was able to make quick work of the unranked Handel in the second set even despite a very tough first set.
In fact, the first set was very close as the senior gaucho held a very solid 72 percent on his first serves (31/43) and even better 92 percent on his second serves (11/12). Conversely, Handel connected on 61 percent of his first serves and 100 percent on his second serves. On top of that, both players each saved five break points.
For a while, Moreno de Alboran was in some real trouble. With the match tied at 4-4, deuce point, the New York native blew a relatively easy return serve giving Handel the win and the lead at 5-4.
Moreno de Alboran then jumped on Handel taking a 40-0 lead in the next set before Handel came back to tie it. Luckily, the senior pulled off this point and tied the match back at 5-5. With that, Moreno de Alboran kept improving and won the close point 7-6 (3).
"Nicolas got outplayed in the first set but when he saved set point at 5-4 he really just started picking up his game and got better as the match went on. I was really impressed with his high level of play," Head Coach Marty Davis said.
The second set was much easier for Moreno de Alboran jumping out to a quick lead and never looking back including scoring two aces, showing how much better his serve has improved over the summer.
With the win, Moreno de Alboran will now move on to face Old Dominion's Aziz Kijametovic in the Round of 16. He is currently ranked No. 78 in the nation. Last year, an Old Dominion player knocked then UCSB senior Simon Freund out of the main draw of this tournament.
"He's a very good backcourt player so I think we are in for some extended rallies tomorrow, but overall I just think it is going to be a great match," Davis said.
On top of the singles, Moreno de Alboran also participated in some mixed doubles action and will be moving onto the Round of 16 in that portion of the tournament as well.