Gauchos open Big West on top of Irvine

IRVINE – The 62nd-ranked UC Santa Barbara men’s tennis team overcame a 1-0 deficit after the doubles competition, winning five of six singles matches, to record a 5-2 Big West Conference win over No. 55 UC Irvine on Monday afternoon.

The Gauchos (6-4 overall, 1-0 in the Big West) battled the Anteaters (1-5 overall, 0-1 in the Big West) in doubles, but won just one of the three matches. Alexander Gryzanov teamed with Ziad Sultan to defeat Sam Gould and Jon Kazarian, 8-6 at No. 3 doubles. Irvine won the other two matches.

Down 1-0, UCSB came back to win five of six singles matches.

Sultan and Mbonisi Ndimande made quick work of their Anteater opponents, winning in two sets. No. 6 Sultan blasted Eric Gast 6-1, 6-2. No. 4 Ndimande beat Ryan Cheung, 6-3, 6-0. The wins at No. 4 and No. 6 gave the Gauchos a 2-1 lead in the match.

UCSB won at No. 1 and No. 2 singles as well. At the No. 1 spot, senior Mathieu Forget defeated Fabian Matthews in three sets, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. At No. 2, Benjamin Recknagel dropped UCI’s Sam Gould, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1.

Or the six singles matches, the Gauchos only loss came at No. 3 where freshman Greg Scott battled hard but dropped a 7-6, 4-6, 7-5 decision to Jacob Jung. UCSB’s fifth point came at No. 5 singles when Axel Bouillin topped Jon Kazarian in three sets, 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.

“Coming back to win five of six singles matches gives us great momentum,” said UCSB’s No. 6 player Ziad Sultan. “We can carry this with us into our next matches.”

UCSB’s Marty Davis was also pleased with his team’s win.

“This was a good win for us,” Davis said. “It would have been good to win the doubles point, but we didn’t and still we were able to come back. To start conference with a win is great and winning five of six singles, that’s really good.”

The Gauchos will continue play against Big West opponents on Saturday, Feb. 25 when they host UC Davis at 1:00 p.m. at the Recreation Center Courts. After a road match at Big West-favorite Cal Poly on March 3, UCSB will play seven straight home matches, beginning with a Sunday, March 4 match against Santa Clara.

UCSB 5, UC Irvine 2

Irvine, Calif. — Anteater Tennis Stadium

No. 1: Cheung/Matthews (UCI) def. Forget/Ndimande (UCSB) – 8-6
No. 2: DeCoster/Jung (UCI) def. Bouillin/Recknagel (UCSB) – 8-3
No. 3: Gryzanov/Sultan (UCSB) def. Gould/Kazarian (UCI) – 8-6

No. 1: Mathieu Forget (UCSB) def. Fabian Matthews (UCI) – 6-4, 2-6, 6-4
No. 2: Benjamin Recknagel (UCSB) def. Sam Gould (UCI) – 6-1, 4-6, 6-1
No. 3: Jacob Jung (UCI) def. Greg Scott (UCSB) – 7-6, 4-6, 7-5
No. 4: Mbonisi Ndimande (UCSB) def. Ryan Cheung (UCI) – 6-3, 6-0
No. 5: Axel Bouillin (UCSB) def. Jon Kazarian (UCI) – 6-2, 5-7, 6-4
No. 6: Ziad Sultan (UCSB) def. Eric Gast (UCI) – 6-1, 6-2