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Gauchos Beat Harvard for 5th Straight Victory

Ranked squads battle to the end but UCSB pulls it out, 4-3.

In what was easily the most exciting and best played match of the year, the No. 69 UCSB men’s tennis team battled past No. 43 Harvard, 4-3, at the Recreation Center Courts on Tuesday. The match was a real nail-biter, filled with great shots and plenty of emotion.

The Gauchos started strong, playing their best doubles of the season, winning at the Nos. 2 and 3 positions to lock up the doubles point. Bijan Hejazi was absolutely on fire at No. 3, blasting service return after service return for searing winners. In total, he and partner Nigel Barton broke serve four times in their match. Alex Konigsfeldt and Josh Finkelstein were even better, getting off court first with their seventh win in 10 matches at the No. 2 position.

The singles also started well for UCSB. In fact, the Gauchos served for the first set on every court. Harvard, however, wasn’t going to go down without a fight and rallied to win three of the first sets, saving multiple set points on court No. 3. Konigsfeldt was the only Gaucho to make short work of his Crimson opponent, posting a quick 2 and 0 win at No. 4 singles. Harvard posted a win at No. 6 to make the score 2-1 in UCSB’s favor and that’s how it stayed for a long, long time. The remaining matches were absolute battles.

Philip Therp, playing in the No. 1 spot for only the second time this season, was next off court, putting the Gauchos up, 3-1. Harvard answered with a win at No. 5 and sent the message again that it wasn’t going down easily. Hejazi went down 3-0 in the third set at No. 2, while Jack Hui served (unsuccessfully) to even his match on court No. 3 at a set all. Hejazi rallied to 4-4 at the same time Hui went into a second set tie-breaker on No. 3. The Crimson were getting dangerously close to pulling off a huge comeback win. You could feel the tension ... could anyone close out the win? Thankfully, Hejazi found the confidence and strength to finish on court No. 2 about the same time Hui went down, 5-0, in his tie-breaker.

At the end of the day, this was a huge win for the Gauchos on a lot of fronts. It was the fifth victory in a row. It gives the guys a positive memory to draw upon the next time things get tight. It provides motivation to many of the guys who are just starting to realize how good they can be. It will lift us higher in the national rankings, giving us a shot — with some more good wins — at an at-large bid for the Big Dance and the No. 1 seeding at our conference tournament.

Thanks to the Gauchos faithful for your vocal and energizing support. We needed every bit of it Tuesday.

Go Gauchos!

No. 69 UCSB 4, No. 43 Harvard 3

Doubles
No. 1 — Ashwin Kumar / Sasha Ermakov (Harvard) defeated Philip Therp / Jack Hui (UCSB) 8-5
No. 2 — Alex Konigsfeldt / Josh Finkelstein (UCSB) defeated Michael Hayes / Dan Nguyen (Harvard)  8-3
No. 3 — Bijan Hejazi / Nigel Barton (UCSB) defeated Aba Omodele-Lucien / Alexei Chijoff-Evans (Harvard) 8-5

Singles
No. 1 — Philip Therp (UCSB) defeated Ashwin Kumar (Harvard) 7-5,6-2
No. 2 — Bijan Hejazi (UCSB) defeated Sasha Ermakov (Harvard) 6-3,5-7,6-4
No. 3 — Dan Nguyen (Harvard) defeated Jack Hui (UCSB) 7-6,7-6
No. 4 — Alex Konigsfeldt (UCSB) defeated Aba Omodele-Lucien (Harvard) 6-2,6-0
No. 5 — Will Guzick (Harvard) defeated Josh Finkelstein (UCSB) 7-5,6-4
No. 6 — Alexei Chijoff-Evans (Harvard) defeated Max Taylor (UCSB) 7-6,6-1

Next Matches
Santa Clara, 1 p.m. Thursday, Tennis Club of Santa Barbara
San Diego State, 1 p.m. Saturday, Recreation Center Courts

Marty Davis coaches men’s tennis at UCSB.

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