MALIBU, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara men's tennis doubles team of Simon Freund and Morgan Mays won a pair of thrilling matches on the final day of competition at the ITA Southwest Regional Championships in Malibu to become the first Gaucho team in history to advance to the prestigious USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.
In Sunday's first match at Pepperdine, Freund and Mays defeated the tournament's No. 2 seeded team of Corey Pang and Benjamin Donovan from Cal Poly, 8-7, including an 8-5 score in the tiebreaker.
"Pang and Donovan are the number one doubles team in the Big West and a very good team, so that's a great win," said head coach Marty Davis. "They had just won the Battle of the Bay up in San Francisco, so to beat them as the No. 2 seed here to get to the finals was very impressive.
The championship match against UCLA's Joseph Di Giulio and Austin Rapp was no less exciting, but once again UCSB's tandem was up to the task with a 4-6, 6-3, 11-9 victory, propelling them to the title and across the country to the Indoor Championships.
The Gauchos trailed 8-9 in the match tiebreaker before rattling off the final three points to earn the win.
"They (Di Giulio and Rapp) had match-point in the tiebreaker, but Morgan served at 8-9 and won it, just barely," Davis said. "Simon had a fabulous return and volley for the win."
The victory by Freund and Mays marks the second major title in as many years for a UCSB men's doubles team. In 2015, the team of Miles Seemann and Nathan Eshmade won the Southern California championship, but the ITA Southwest Regional title was particularly important because of the end result.
"The win last year by Miles and Nate was big, but this one is a program first," Davis said. "To send a team to the Indoors is a great thing for UCSB tennis."
Davis was especially proud of how his doubles team played considering it was the first time they had ever played together.
"They had never played together before this tournament," he said. "It's a credit to them that they were able to play as well as they did when they had never played together before. I expect we'll keep them together for a while."
Mays, who won the title in his hometown of Malibu, is in his third season at UCSB after transferring from Wake Forest. He is the Team Captain and, without question, its leader. Freund, a junior who transferred in over the summer after playing his first two seasons at Louisiana State University. He is a native of Stockholm, Sweden. He was making his Gaucho debut at the Southwest Regional Championships after nursing some minor injuries.
The USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships will be played on Nov. 3-6 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The tournament will include just the top-20 doubles teams and top-32 individuals in the nation.