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Tennis

A Look Back At The 2017 Tennis Season

7/6/2017

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2017 Final Tennis Release


UC Santa Barbara repeated as men's and women's tournament champion, and Hawai‘i freshman Petra Melounova became the first Big West player to win an NCAA Singles Tournament match since 1998 to highlight the 2017 tennis campaign.

BIG WEST YEAR IN REVIEW

UC Santa Barbara Men Win Again In Indian Wells
The tradition of winning at Indian Wells Tennis Garden continued for the UC Santa Barbara men’s tennis program in 2017.  As the No. 1 seed, the Gauchos downed No. 4 seed UC Irvine and No. 3 seed Cal Poly to lift the championship trophy for the third straight year, and for the eighth time in 14 years at the desert-based facility.

In addition, it was the 10th title won under the tutelage of head coach Marty Davis, and the program’s 11th overall.  The Gauchos captured the championship as the top seed for the second season in a row.  Four of the eight titles at Indian Wells have come with the Gauchos sporting the No. 1 seed.

Some other notes on the UCSB championship season:

• Finishing 19-6 overall, the Gauchos tied for second in Big West history for most victories in a single-season.

• The 19 victories represented the most by a UCSB team since the 1989 squad won 20.

• The season included a program-record 12-match win streak.

• All six losses came to nationally ranked competition, with three of those by agonizing 4-3 results.  The Gauchos fell to No. 7 UCLA (5-2), No. 6 California (4-3), No. 21 Oregon (4-3), No. 9 Baylor (4-3), No. 31 TCU (6-1) and No. 27 Ole Miss (4-1).

Gaucho Men Make NCAA Tournament Appearance
By virtue of winning the Big West Tournament, the UCSB men earned the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.  It was the program’s 13th trip to the NCAA Tournament, and the third straight year a Marty Davis-coached squad reached the field of 64.

UCSB lost a hard fought 4-1 contest to No. 27 Ole Miss.  Nicolas Moreno de Alboran picked up UCSB’s lone point with a dominating 6-3, 6-2 victory at No. 2 singles over Ricardo Jorge.  Moreno de Alboran partnered with Anders Holm at No. 2 doubles for a 7-6 (2) triumph over Jorge and Zvonimir Babic, but the Gauchos were unable to collect the point with losses at the No. 1 and No. 3 spots.  The fortunes easily could have turned for UCSB, which suffered a pair of three-set losses at No. 5 and No. 6 singles and had two other matches in progress when the contest ended.

It was the 11th straight NCAA Tournament loss for UCSB, which last won a postseason match in the 1998 first round against Oregon.

Hawai‘i Women Capture First Regular Season Crown
Hawai‘i completed its run through the Big West, finishing 8-0 in regular season play for the outright title.  It was the first Big West title for the ‘Bows, which included a period from 1985-96 and since rejoining the conference for the 2013 season.

UH also nailed down the No. 1 seed at the Big West Tournament for the first time.  The ‘Bows fell short in the championship match for the second straight year to UC Santa Barbara, but still posted an impressive 16-7 record.

The ‘Bows became the 11th squad in 12 seasons to finish the league slate undefeated since the Big West instituted a round-robin schedule in 2006.  The only time a champion registered a loss in league play occurred in 2011 when Long Beach State and Cal Poly shared the crown with identical 7-1 records.

UNDEFEATED WOMEN’S SQUADS IN CONFERENCE PLAY
School Year Record
Hawai‘i 2017 8-0
Long Beach State 2016 8-0
Long Beach State 2015 8-0
Long Beach State 2014 8-0
UC Irvine 2013 9-0
Long Beach State 2012 8-0
Long Beach State 2010 8-0
Long Beach State 2009 8-0
Long Beach State 2008 8-0
UC Irvine 2007 7-0
Long Beach State 2006 7-0
                      
Thibodeau Leads Gauchos To Repeat Title
In 2016, UC Santa Barbara ended a 20-year women’s tennis tournament championship drought as the second-seeded Gauchos clinched the crown for the first time since 1996.  The 1996 title was the last of six straight for UCSB, which maintained contender status for many years going forward but couldn’t overcome the run of dominance displayed by Long Beach State.

The 2017 Gauchos proved that last year was no fluke.  Under fifth-year head coach Simon Thibodeau, they repeated as champion, doing so again as the No. 2 seed.  UCSB’s eighth title all-time culminated with a victory against top-seeded Hawai‘i in the finals, avenging a regular season loss to the Rainbow Wahine.

The Gauchos finished 17-10 overall and locked down a No. 46 ranking in the final Oracle/ITA national poll.  Thibodeau’s troops extended their winning streak to 10 straight following the victory over UH in the Big West Tournament final.

Gauchos Stay Local For NCAA Tourney Tilt
UCSB drew No. 23 UCLA as its first round opponent in the NCAA Tournament, and lost a closely contested 4-0 decision to the Bruins on a neutral site in Malibu at host Pepperdine.  The score was a bit misleading as four of the six singles matches went the distance, with three of those contests still in progress when the match ended.  Jaimee Gilbertson, Stefani Stojic, Amanda Atanasson and Melissa Baker all scored first-set victories against their Bruin counterparts from the No. 3 to No. 6 positions, respectively.

However, the Bruins won the doubles point, in addition to triumphs at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, and Stojic couldn’t maintain her momentum at No. 4 in a three-set loss.

UCSB hoped to mirror last year’s NCAA result – a 4-3 victory over No. 32 Kansas in the first round – which doubled as the program’s first-ever postseason win.

Dual Titles An Uncommon Occurrence

The UC Santa Barbara men and women won their respective tournament titles for the second straight year.  Only four times in Big West history has a school managed to win dual titles.  In 2010, UC Irvine hoisted the men’s and women’s tournament trophy.  Boise State also accomplished the feat in 1997.

Matias Continues Titan Renaissance
In four seasons, Cal State Fullerton head coach Dianne Matias has turned the program completely around.  Her first team won eight matches, then improved to 10 in year two.  The 2016 squad earned a school record 17 victories, but the 2017 version trumped that number, going 19-4 overall.  The Titans notched their best winning percentage (.826) in school history, and reached the semifinals of the Big West Tournament for the first time.

The season started with an 11-match winning streak and triumphs in 15 of the first 16 contests.

Handful Of Seniors Join Esteemed List
Only nine former players combined – six women and three men – had achieved elite status in conference annals as a four-time recipient of All-Big West First Team accolades.  The class of 2017 will go down as one of the more prestigious ones in league history with five more competitors joining the list.  Men’s standouts Alec Adamson of UC Davis and Ben Donovan of Cal Poly were honored on the first team for a fourth time, as were women’s performers Cindy Nguyen of Hawai‘i, Maeva Razakasoa of Long Beach State and Alexis Valenzuela of Cal State Fullerton.  Razakasoa ended her Beach career as the winningest singles player of all-time with 106 victories.  Both Razakasoa and Nguyen earned six Big West Athlete of the Week accolades, tying them for fourth all-time on the career list. 

Melounova Wins Match In NCAA Singles Tournament
Petra Melounova became the third straight recruit under Hawai‘i head coach Jun Hernandez to earn Big West Women’s Tennis Freshman of the Year honors, following Viktoria Malova (2015) and Marina Hruba (2016).  Melounova also became just the third individual in Big West history to be named both Big West Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year in the same season.  As the conference’s lone nationally ranked singles player, Melounova received an invite to the NCAA Singles Championship.

She upset No. 16-ranked Texas A&M senior Rachel Pierson in the first round, winning 7-6 (5), 6-3 and becoming the first Rainbow Wahine in school history to win a match in the singles tournament.  Melounova also became the first Big West player to win a match in the NCAA singles draw since Long Beach State’s Jing Chen in 1998, ending a string of 11 consecutive losses by Big West representatives in the first round.  Melounova eventually fell in the second round by a 6-3, 6-2 score to LSU’s Joana Valle Costa.

Gaucho Duos Participate In NCAA Doubles Tourneys

UC Santa Barbara sent a men’s and women’s tandem to compete in this year’s NCAA Doubles Championship.  The men’s duo of Simon Freund and Morgan Mays, which finished the season ranked No. 33 nationally by Oracle/ITA, nearly upset third-seeded Johannes Ingildsen and Alfredo Perez of Florida.  Freund and Mays lost a 4-6, 6-3, 10-7 thriller to the Gator duo.  The women’s pairing of Palina Dubavets and Melissa Baker showed their mettle against LSU counterparts Joana Valle Costa and Ryann Foster, but fell in their first round match by a 6-2, 7-5 score to the No. 16-ranked team in the country.

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