Gaucho tennis to meet Texas Tech in NCAA tourney

Big West Tournament Champion UC Santa Barbara will play Texas Tech in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Men’s Tennis Tournament on Friday, May 8 at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on the UCLA campus, the NCAA announced Tuesday. The match between the Gauchos and Red Raiders will begin at 10:00 a.m.

NCAA TOURNAMENT FIELD

UCSB, which defeated UC Irvine in a thrilling 4-3 league tournament championship match on Sunday, enters the tournament as a No. 3 seed. UCLA, which is seeded 16th overall, will host Florida Gulf Coast in the other first round match in Westwood.

Santa Barbara enters the postseason with a 15-9 record while Texas Tech is 18-8 overall after losing to Texas in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament.

“I love the match-up,” said UCSB head coach Marty Davis. “That’s a team we beat here (in Santa Barbara) in 2012 and they were ranked 19th at the time. It was one of our biggest wins in a long time and I’m sure our captain, Ziad Sultan, has good memories of that.”

Sultan, who was named First Team All-Big West in doubles earlier Tuesday, is the only Gaucho player remaining from that 2012 team that defeated Texas Tech. In that victory, he and his doubles partner Sasha Gryaznov came from down 3-7 to defeat their opponent, giving UCSB the doubles point in dramatic fashion, and then Sultan won his No. 5 singles match. The only Red Raider left from the 2012 team is senior Francisco Zambon who fell at No. 6 singles.

According to Davis, another positive aspect for his team is the facility that will house the match.

“We’ll be playing at a facility that we are very familiar with,” Davis said. “We play a tournament there every year, so we think that’s a positive for us too.”

The Los Angeles Tennis Center is the annual site of the Southern California Intercollegiate Championship, which is played each fall.

The Gauchos enter the NCAA Tournament having won four consecutive matches and nine of their last 11. The only two losses over that span came at UC Davis and at Fresno State by 4-3 scores. After defeating Cal Poly in the regular season finale, they cruised past Hawai’i (4-0) and Davis (4-1) in the first two rounds of the Big West Tournament before edging UC Irvine in the final.

“The thing that’s come along in our play is our doubles play is much improved,” Davis said. “That will be a critical part of our success. I can’t overstate the confidence that winning the doubles point gives us. We feel we can play with anybody when we’ve won doubles, so that will be one our focuses in practice over the next several days”

The UCSB-Texas Tech match-up will also serve as a reunion of sorts. The Red Raiders are coached by Tim Siegel, an old foe from Davis’s days as a player on the ATP Tour.

“They are well-coached,” Davis said. “Tim Siegel has been at it for a long time. He’s an old friend from the ATP tour back in the 1980s and I look forward to seeing him again.”

The Gauchos will be returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013. The Big West championship was the program’s eighth and the NCAA tournament appearance is its 10th, the eighth under Davis.

The winner of the match between Santa Barbara and Texas Tech will play the winner of the UCLA-FGCU match at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 9.

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