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UCSB Men Come Up Short in Close Matches, Falls to Ole Miss in NCAA Tourney

The No. 37 UCSB men's tennis team suffered a 4-1 loss to No. 27 Ole Miss in the first round of the NCAA Championships at UCLA.

The Big West champion Gauchos, who entered the NCAA tournament riding a 12-match win streak, were tantalizingly close to taking the always important opening doubles point.  After falling behind with a 6-4 loss at the No. 3 position, Nicolas Moreno and Anders Holm defeated the Rebels second pair of Ricardo Jorge and Babic, only the second loss all season for the Ole Miss team, to level the score. 

Gaucho aces Morgan Mays and Simon Freund, ranked No. 35, fell in a nail biting tie-breaker to Mississippi's Fallert and Hamilton, ranked No.19, and the Rebels took the point.

The Gauchos bounced right back, taking the first set on four of six singles courts to put themselves in position to win.  Mays got off to a terrific start, thumping No. 23 Gustav Hansson 6-3 on court one.  Similarly, Nicolas Moreno dropped Ricardo Jorge 6-3 on court two and then sped away with the second 6-2 to level the match at 1-1.

At this stage, Cody Rakela was up a set and a break on court five, Freund had just battled to a tie-break first set win on court three, Teague Hamilton had bounced back from dropping the first set on court six and had taken the second 7-5. 

On court four, Fabian Fallert was just to tough and steady for Gaucho Anders Holm and posted his 13th straight victory to put the Rebels back in front, 2-1.

Court five ended up being the "swing' match."  Filip Kraljevic turned the tables on Cody Rakela, attacking at every opportunity, and sweeping past the Gaucho with a quick 6-1 third set win.  Grey Hamilton hung on to defeat Teague Hamilton 6-3 in their third set to seal the win for Ole Miss.

Sadly for UCSB, the matches on courts 1 and 3 were halted.

"It felt like Freund, still up a set, would win on court 3, and captain Mays, playing one of his best matches of the season, had a break point opportunity in hand, up 3-2 in the third.  Having the senior's match suspended was a huge disappointment for obvious reasons," said coach Marty Davis.

The UCSB men finish the season with its highest national ITA ranking since 1998.

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