Maassen, Ekola battle for SB Tennis Open title

Graham Maassen is the 2015 Santa Barbara Open champion. (Presidio Sports Photos)

Graham Maassen is the 2015 Santa Barbara Open champion. (Presidio Sports Photos)


Having grown up learning how to play at Santa Barbara Tennis Club, Graham Maassen felt right at home in the championship match of the Santa Barbara Tennis Open on Friday.

Maassen, a former Channel League champion from Santa Barbara High who plays for the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens, topped high school standout Spencer Ekola 6-2, 6-2.

“It was nice playing on my home courts. I played pretty loose,” Maassen said. “I was making minimal unforced errors today. I felt pretty good and I was able to put a lot of pressure on him coming to the net. Serving and volleying felt really good today.”

Maassen broke Ekola in the very first game and again in Ekola’s third service game to take a 5-1 lead. After Ekola held serve for the second time, Maassen closed out the set.

“He was definitely taking the net more which would throw me off balance and throw me off guard. I had trouble passing him,” said Ekola, a soon to-be Bishop Diego senior.

Spencer Ekola

Spencer Ekola reached the final as a No. 4 seed.

The second set began with Ekola winning a hard-fought game with multiple deuces and break points. He capitalized on the gutsy hold of serve by breaking Maassen in the following game to build a 2-0 lead.

Maassen quickly regrouped and reeled off six straight games to win the match.

“He’s a tough player. I got pretty tired there at the beginning of the second set, had to get some energy back,” Maassen explained. “I just tried to relax and go back to what helped me get momentum in the first set, just trying to make him play every single point. No freebies.”

Ekola, who had a chance to become the youngest champion in the event’s 79-year history, defeated Timothy Roe 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals to make the final as the draw’s No. 4 seed.

“It was definitely fun. I enjoyed it a lot, good tournament for me. It would have been nice to win, but you know…,” Ekola said.

Maassen topped Petar Jivkov in the other semifinal 6-4, 6-0, in a rematch of the 2013 Channel League Singles Championship title match also won by Maassen.

Jeffrey Gast and Dayne Gingrich won the men’s open doubles championship over Austin Lee and Chris Cope.

Find complete results from the 79th Santa Barbara Tennis Open HERE.