SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — UC Santa Barbara's Nicolas Moreno de Alboran, Joseph Rotheram, and Daunte Harris, all put together gritty performances on Saturday and advanced to the Championship matches tomorrow in their individual singles flights.
Moreno de Alboran had a very impressive evening knocking off athletes from premier Pac-12 powerhouses, Stanford and UCLA in the A Flight. The junior began his day defeating the Cardinal's William Genesen in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3.
The New York native then turned his attention to the Bruins Keegan Smith and earned his chance to take home a title, defeating Smith 6-4, 5-7, 6-2.
"I am really happy for him," Assistant Coach Blake Muller said. "One of the more exciting things is that I thought he played well but I think there is still more things for him to improve on and yet he still beat two very good players."
Moreno de Alboran will now face David Wilczynski, ranked 103 nationally, in the finals on Sunday.
"He's a senior [Wilcyznski] so he's got a ton of experience playing in the top half of Stanford's lineup for years so he's tough," Muller said. "What I want to see Nic do is play his game, stick to what he does well which is looking to hit his forehand, using his serve, and not getting too passive out there."
Showing some tenacity of his own, Freund, for the second consecutive tournament after losing his opening draw, won both of his consolation matches in straight sets to earn a trip to the finals. The senior defeated Fresno State's Jeremy Moser 6-0, 7-5 then Pepperdine's Matias Sborowitz 6-1, 6-2.
"He's a senior, he's our captain this year and so it is good to see him leading the way and showing the guys how you do it when you lose a tough match on the first day," Muller said. "Overall, he played well, he improved on some things Marty [Davis] and I wanted to see and he did a better job of building points and finishing at the net."
In the B Flight, freshmen Henrik Atlevi and Ajai Shekhara were hoping to shake off their opening day losses and at least reach a consolation final like their senior counterpart but were unable to do so.
Atlevi picked up a win rather easily in his first consolation match winning 6-1, 6-1 but then lost to Fresno State's Henrique Osorio 6-2, 6-3. He will now be fighting for 11th place tomorrow.
Shekhara lost his first consolation bout but bounced back in his next match defeating Pacific's Daniel Orlita 6-4, 4-1 (retire) to have a chance to finish 13th in the flight on Sunday.
In the C Flight, Rotheram put together a gritty performance winning his singles matches despite being pushed to three sets in both. The redshirt freshman first defeated Cal Poly's Antonie Noel 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 and then took out Cal's Gunther Matta 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 in order to earn the opportunity to win his first tournament title.
After not participating in singles play yesterday due to having a bye, Harris was eager to show his stuff on Saturday in Flight D as he earned victories against St. Mary's Jackson Hawk, 7-6, 1-6, 6-4 and Loyola Marymount's Ethan Prost 6-2, 6-4.
Doubles also saw one UCSB pair advance to the final as in the B Flight, the team of Moreno de Alboran/Shekhara defeated Fresno State's Osorio/Eturk 8-4 to face Cal Poly's Damiens/Enander for a chance at the title.
In the top flight, UCSB's Holm and Freund pair lost their match against Wilcyznski, who subbed in for Stanford's Jack Barber due to injury, and Genesen 8-5 and will now look to finish third facing a tough UCLA pair tomorrow.
"I thought they played really well, I thought they could've won," Muller said. "They just weren't always executing and didn't finish, but I am happy with the way they are playing, putting themselves in the right position."
Freshmen duo Atlevi and Rotheram continued their success of the day before and won their match 8-4 to advance to the C Flights doubles finals while Harris, paired with UCLA's Conner Rapp, also picked up an 8-4 victory in the D Flight.
With multiple athletes in finals across all flights, it is clear UCSB has done a great job in its annual hosted tournament, but now tomorrow will show if they can close it out.
"The Gauchos have been doing a great job of representing and coming out this fall season hard, makes you excited for the program," Muller said.
The UCSB Classic concludes Sunday, Oct. 8 beginning at 9 a.m. with the doubles portion of the tournament.
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.