Men's Tennis Travels to UCSB, Cal Poly This Week

Sander Gjoels-Andersen and the Aztecs are headed out on the road to face UCSB and Cal Poly this week.
Sander Gjoels-Andersen and the Aztecs are headed out on the road to face UCSB and Cal Poly this week.
Jan. 31, 2018

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego State men's tennis team embarks on an eight-match road swing starting this week when the Aztecs travel up the coast to face UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly on consecutive days. SDSU will battle the Gauchos on Friday, Feb. 2, beginning at 1:30 p.m. PT, before continuing the drive north to San Luis Obispo for a noon PT clash with the Mustangs on Saturday, Feb. 3.

The Aztecs opened their spring schedule with a pair of losses to Loyola Marymount and Brigham Young in a home doubleheader on Jan. 27. After falling to the Lions by a 5-0 count, SDSU found itself in much tighter match with the Cougars in the nightcap, but still came out on the wrong side of a 4-2 tally. The Aztecs dropped a hotly contested doubles point as well as three of five completed singles matches to slip to 0-2 on the young season.

Sophomores Rafael Gonzalez Almazan (Madrid, Spain) and Joel Popov (Tampere, Finland) lead the Scarlet and Black with eight wins apiece in singles competition thus far, while another freshman Ignacio Martinez (Weston, Fla.) has seven victories to his credit. In addition, Gonzalez Almazan has teamed with junior Raul de la Torre (Calexico, Calif.) to post a team-best 7-3 record in doubles.

SDSU is 65-20 against Big West Conference opponents dating back to 1989, including a 16-10 mark vs. UC Santa Barbara. However, the Aztecs suffered a 7-0 defeat to the Gauchos in a neutral-site match last year in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Aztecs last ventured to UCSB in 2015, but fell short by a 5-2 margin.

The Gauchos are off to a 1-1 start to the 2018 campaign after splitting two matches at the ITA Kick-off Classic in Los Angeles last weekend, pinning a 4-0 shutout on SMU before experiencing a 6-1 setback against No. 5 USC.

Individually, UCSB is led by Nicholas Moreno de Alboran, who received a No. 42 singles ranking by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association on Nov. 15. The Gaucho junior captured all-Big West honors last year after posting a 19-12 record, including a 14-10 mark in dual-match play. This season, Moreno de Alboran is off to a 13-7 start, highlighted by an appearance in the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships, when he was upended in the consolation finals by 14th-ranked Tim Sandkaulen of Mississippi.

Senior Simon Freund is another key player for UCSB, sporting a 19-8 overall singles record during the 2016-17 campaign, including a 7-0 ledger against conference foes to garner all-Big West accolades. Also back in the mix is junior Anders Holm, who led the Gauchos with a 20-5 singles record a year ago playing primarily in the No. 4 slot, while joining forces with Moreno de Alboran to merit all-league recognition at No. 2 doubles.

SDSU and UCSB met on two occasions during the 2017 fall tournament schedule at the ITA Southwest Regions Championships, with Martinez posting a three-set triumph in the round of 128 over Henrik Atlevi, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-1, while Gonzalez Almazan dropped a dramatic super-tiebreaker against Daunte Harris in the third round of consolation play, 2-6, 7-5, 11-9.

Cal Poly is off to a 3-1 start this season in dual-match competition, defeating Pacific (5-2) and Sacramento State (7-0) on the road before splitting a pair of encounters at the ITA Kick-Off Classic in College Station, Texas. The Mustangs opened with a 4-1 triumph over Georgia State before suffering a 4-0 whitewash at the hands of No. 7 Texas A&M.

Cal Poly sports six freshmen on its roster, including Alexander Stater, who leads the squad with an 11-4 singles record so far this season, while junior Josh Ortlip has compiled a 10-5 mark. Last year, Ortlip went 19-10, including a 14-8 ledger in dual matches at the No. 3 and No. 4 positions to garner all-Big West honorable mention.

Senior Axel Damiens and sophomore Antoine Noel also return from last year's Mustang squad that reached the finals of the Big West tournament. Damiens has racked up an 8-6 singles record thus far in 2017-18, while Noel is 7-6.

SDSU is 10-2 against Cal Poly since 1989, including a 3-1 mark in San Luis Obispo. The two sides last met in 2016, with the Aztecs prevailing by a 4-2 count on the road.

Junior Sander Gjoels-Andersen (Klampenborg, Denmark) is the lone singles holdover from that match for the Scarlet and Black when he dropped a tough three-set decision to Ortlip in the No. 4 spot. However, then-sophomore Santiago Cevallos (Queretaro, Mexico) teamed with former Aztec Milen Ianakiev to record a victory at No. 2 doubles.

Following this week's action, San Diego State will head to the Magnolia State to battle 15th-ranked Mississippi State on Friday, Feb. 9, starting at 1 p.m. CT/11 a.m. PT.

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