The UCSB men’s tennis team celebrates winning its third straight Big West championship.  (Big West Conference photo)

UC Santa Barbara completed the three-peat as the Big West Men’s Tennis Tournament champion.  The top-seeded Gauchos defeated No. 3 seed Cal Poly, 4-1, at Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Sunday.

It is the eighth title for UCSB in the 14 years that the tournament has been played at Indian Wells and the program’s 11th tourney championship overall.

It was a gritty effort by both teams in a tightly contested match.  The Gauchos prevailed for the doubles point that went the distance.  Cal Poly was the first to finish at No. 3, as Garrett Auproux and Axel Damiens defeated Cody Rakela and Kristian Prior, 6-4.  UCSB responded at the No. 2 spot with Nicolas Moreno and Anders Holm downing Karl Enander and Timothy Tan, 6-2.  The Gauchos captured the doubles point when Morgan Mays and Simon Freund won in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (3), over Corey Pang and Ben Donovan.

“Doubles point was as intense as it could be,” Mays said. “We had lots of break points and weren’t able to convert but we played a solid breaker to win. That point was big and it gave us a lot of momentum heading into singles.”

Pang shook off his loss in doubles to level the score as he toppled Mays at No. 1 singles, 6-4, 6-4.  But the Gauchos took control from there.

Holm won by a 6-4, 6-4 score over Joshua Ortlip at No. 4.  UCSB went up 3-1 when Freund dispatched Auproux, 7-6 (6), 6-0.  The Gauchos hoisted the trophy following Moreno’s gutty 6-0, 4-6, 6-2 victory over Donovan at No. 2.

Both matches at No. 5 and No. 6 were in the third set but went unfinished when the match completed.

UCSB improved to 19-5 on the year, tying for the second-most wins by a Big West program since the conference began round-robin play in 2006.  The record is 20 by UC Irvine (2015).  Cal Poly concludes its season at 18-8.