SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Multiple UC Santa Barbara men's tennis athletes were in action today, but only one was in action at the All-American Championships. Senior Gaucho Nicolas Moreno de Alboran took the courts in Tulsa, Oklahoma hoping to advance further in the consolation singles bracket.
In his first match of the day, Moreno de Alboran was pitted against the No. 1 USA junior, Sam Riffice of Florida University. The senior ace played the best tennis of the season, defeating Riffice in straight sets, 6-4,6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals.
"Nic's forehand, which is just the best in the country, was so spectacular today against Riffice. He was also just so much better with his backhand. Nic is just getting better every day so it is awesome," Head Coach Marty Davis said.
In the quarters of the back draw, Moreno de Alboran faced off against a very familiar foe in Texas University's Christian Sigsgaard. The two had played a match against each other just two weeks ago.
Just like that match, this one was also pushed to three sets. Moreno de Alboran would start the match strongly and win the first set 6-3 but would go on to lose the second 6-2. Last time out, the New York native took the third set, but today it would be Sigsgaard who took the final set 6-3 to win the match and eliminate Moreno de Alboran from the tournament.
Following the loss, Moreno de Alboran will now turn his attention to the ITA Regionals two weeks from now. Last season, the senior ran the table making it all the way to the championship round.
Despite a decent showing in this tournament, there is no doubt that UCSB has moved beyond simply being happy just winning matches as these invites and wants to actually be the ones to win it.
"We won three matches, lost three but the wins are significant that they do count for a lot," Davis said. "I am happy and Nic is getting better but he still has some things he needs to improve. With Nic we are past the point where it is okay to lose to these guys even those that are No. 1 in the nation. It is time to start beating these guys and I think if he keeps playing like this and keeps improving he will be scary by the end of the year."
While Moreno de Alboran was trying to get things done in Oklahoma, multiple other Gauchos were trying to take care of business back at home in the annual UCSB Classic.
Starting the day with doubles, UCSB's pair in the A Flight, sophomores Victor Krustev and Joseph Rotheram, bounced back from a tough opening day loss to punch their ticket to the consolation finals against UCLA's Conner Hance and Connor Rapp. The UCSB pair bested Fresno State's Bradshaw/Osorio in a very tough tiebreaker match, 8-7 (4).
Flight B of doubles had no Gaucho representatives but Flight C had two UCSB teams both punching their tickets to the championship round tomorrow. First, UCSB's Alex Soto and Hironori Koyanagi defeated their rival pair from Cal Poly 8-6 to advance.
Even more impressive was Luka Vukmonovic and Wilhelm Saiga's win as they blanked Oregon's Oshima/Coste 8-0 to advance to the Finals. This is the first time in UCSB Classic history that the championship is comprised of only Gauchos.
In singles, UCSB athletes did not fair as well as they did in day one. In the top flight, Koyanagi struggled in today's events losing his first match to Stanford's Michael Genender 6-3, 6-3 knocking him out of contention of winning the title. He would then face Oregon's Emmanuel Coste in an extra singles match losing that one 6-2, 6-4.
On the other side of the bracket, in the same flight, Krustev was making noise in the back draw. First, Krustev defeated Matthew Tsolakyan of UCLA who had to retire in the first set due to injury. He then took on and defeated Stanford's Jack Barber in a very impressive three-set win by scores of 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Krustev will now face Cal's Dominic Barretto in the consolation final, hoping to be the second straight Gaucho to win the back draw after then-senior Simon Freund did so last season.
In the B Flight, both Soto and senior Anders Holm won their first match yesterday but would lose their first match today sending them to the 5th/7th place bracket. There, Holm defeated Fresno State's Henrique Osorio 7-6 (5), 7-5 while Soto lost to UCLA's Rapp 6-2, 6-4.
Holm will now face Rapp tomorrow for fifth place while Soto will face Osorio for seventh place.
In the C Flight, UCSB's Saiga started strong defeating Charles Roberts of Oregon 6-1, 6-4 to advance and face Cal Poly's, Alex Slater. Unfortunately, Saiga was bested 6-4, 6-3 sending Slater to the championship round and Saiga in a battle for third place tomorrow against UCLA's Max Wild.
In the final flight, D, Vukmonovic would have two singles matches but would go on to lose both. He will play a final one tomorrow against LMU's Ryan Brown.
Despite some losses along the way, all of the UCSB participants have shown some strong signs of improvement. Also, considering the two best singles player on the team as well as UCSB's best double pair did not make appearances in this tournament, things have gone well.
The UCSB Classic concludes Sunday, Oct. 7 beginning at 9 a.m. with the doubles portion of the tournament followed by the final singles match.
Flight A of the tournament will take place at the Recreation Center Courts while Flights B and D of the Classic will be taking place at the Rob Gym Courts. Flight C will be at the Stadium Courts.