UC Santa Barbara, Hawai'i Will Represent Big West In NCAA Singles & Doubles Championships
Four Big West players will compete in the 2018 NCAA Division I Tennis Singles and Doubles Championships, held May 23-28 at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
The singles and doubles competition will begin after the conclusion of the team championship, which runs from May 17-22. Wake Forest will serve as host.
UC Santa Barbara junior Nicolas Moreno de Alboran will participate in the men’s singles tournament. Hawai‘i sophomore Petra Melounova will compete in the women’s singles draw, while UCSB tandem Palina Dubavets and Natalie Da Silveira earned an invitation to the women’s doubles competition.
The four earned automatic bids into their respective NCAA draws by virtue of being the highest-ranked players from the Big West in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association singles and doubles polls.
Moreno de Alboran is the first Gaucho men’s player to compete in the NCAA Singles Championships since Philip Therp in 2007. Named Big West Player of the Year earlier this week, Moreno de Alboran posted a 15-5 record in dual matches, including a 13-5 mark at No. 1 singles.
He won his final eight matches – and 11 of the last 12 – culminating in a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Cal Poly’s Josh Ortlip in the finals of the Big West Tournament Sunday. The Gauchos went on to win their fourth straight conference tournament title. The New York, N.Y. native has been ranked by the ITA all season long, including a season-best No. 71.
Melounova will be making her second straight appearance for Hawai‘i in the women’s singles championship. It is the fourth time in the last five years that a Rainbow Wahine player has claimed a spot in the NCAA 64-player bracket. Cindy Nguyen qualified in 2014 and 2015.
In the 2017 tourney, Melounova became the first UH player to win a match, upsetting 16th-ranked Rachel Pierson of Texas A&M in the first round before falling to LSU’s Joana Valle Costa in the second round. She was the first player from the Big West to win an NCAA singles match since 1998.
Melounova, the Big West Player of the Year for the second straight season, earned the bid to this year’s tournament with a No. 80 ranking in the ITA poll. She has been ranked as high as No. 65 this year. Her most impressive win came on March 25 when she defeated the nation’s 10th-ranked singles player, Stanford’s Michaela Gordon, 6-2, 6-3. She owns a 14-3 dual record exclusively at No. 1 singles.
Dubavets is making her third straight trip to the national doubles tournament – all with a different partner. She played with Stefani Stojic in 2016 and Melissa Baker in 2017.
Playing with Da Silveira in 2018, the two sport a 15-6 dual match record and have won eight consecutive matches entering the NCAA’s.
Dubavets and Stojic snapped a 21-year Big West drought in the doubles tournament when they knocked off DePaul’s Rebeca Mitrea and Yulia Shupenia, 6-1, 6-2 in the first round in 2016. They nearly upset the top seeded team from North Carolina in the second round.