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UCSB Men Blank SMU 4-0, Face No.5 USC in Kick Off Classic Championship Match

The 2018 season is off to a good start for the UC Santa Barbara men who began the year with a bang, blanking SMU 4-0 to advance to the ITA Kick-Off Classic championship round against No. 5 USC tomorrow. The winner of Saturday's match will earn an invitation to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship.

The Gauchos were able to pull out two tough doubles wins to secure the opening point.

The dominant duo of juniors Nicolas Moreno de Alboran and Anders Holm were able to earn the first victory of the day posting a 6-3 win over SMU's Tomas Vaise and Jan-Simon Vrbsky. Moreno de Alboran and Holm are currently ranked No. 44 in the ITA doubles rankings.

Senior Simon Freund and redshirt freshman Joseph Rotheram were able to pull out the second win in a tough match against Charles Nettlefold and Roberto Rosales. They clinched the doubles win off a deuce point at 6-5 in order to secure the 7-5 win. The Gaucho pair had to battle back from a 15-40 deficit in the prior service game.  Yikes!

The third match was suspended with UCSB newcomers Joseph Guillin and Victor Krustev down 4-6 in the tiebreaker at the no. 3 position.

"Doubles was extremely close and exciting.  Winning on court one with our nationally ranked pair was huge," Head Coach Marty Davis said. "We snuck through the doubles and then basically obliterated them in singles."

Just as coach stated, the Gauchos dominated singles play. Holm won the first match on court three eliminating SMU's Nettlefold easily, 6-2, 6-0. The newcomers Guillin and Krustev were the other two Santa Barbara athletes that secured the opening day win for UCSB as they won 6-2, 6-0 and 6-2, 6-2 on courts four and five, respectively.

Junior Hironori also put together a solid performance in his first day representing UCSB as he was winning 5-1 in the second set, having won the first 6-2, when the match was called due to the Gauchos sealing the win.

"I was really impressed with our new guys today," Davis said. "Most got a very impressive win under their belt to start the season, and even though Hiro didn't technically win he looked very good and was on his way to the victory."

Moreno de Alboran and Freund both had tougher matches on the first and second courts, respectively. Moreno de Alboran, ranked No. 42 in the country, actually dropped his first set against Vrbsky in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (3). The Gaucho junior was, however, winning the second set 2-0 before it was called.

As for Freund, the senior won the first set 6-4 and was in a fight in the second leading just 4-3 when the match was called.

"Overall, I was very impressed with our singles play, we got off to good starts and did not let up. We were ruthlessly efficient, especially in the second set of these matches," Davis said.

With the win, the Gauchos now have a date with the No. 5 Trojans a team that has made it to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship 10 consecutive years. UCSB has beaten USC only once in 19 tries throughout the two program's history.

USC has a boatload of ranked talent but their top athlete is No. 6 ranked Brandon Holt. The sophomore was dominant during the fall tournament season winning the Oracle ITA Masters crown.

The Trojans are also very talented in doubles as they crushed Indiana this afternoon dropping just one game in all three matches. Overall, USC defeated Indiana 6-1.

"Last year we lost 4-3 to three top 10 teams so we feel like we are getting close," said Davis. "A win tomorrow would definitely be a breakthrough match for us."

UCSB takes on No. 5 USC at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 27th at Marks Stadium at USC.

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