Late rally sparks Oregon sweep over No. 54 UCSB
After winning the first set on all six courts of their Monday match against University of California Santa Barbara, it appeared that Oregon was headed for an easy sweep.
That wasn’t the case, though, as the Gauchos rallied back to force a third set in two different matches as well as second set tie-breakers in two more matches. At one point, the Ducks were in danger of falling to a 2-2 tie while also trailing in two other matches.
Ultimately, the Ducks held their composure and successfully finished out all six matches with wins against one of the top opponents on their preseason schedule. Its sweep on the singles side, combined with the its 2-1 win in the doubles matches, earned Oregon a 7-0 win.
Freshman Thomas Laurent and sophomore Simon Stevens captured tie-breaker victories just moments apart to win the match for the Ducks, capping off a nail-biting series of second sets.
“(UCSB) are a good team, we know they’re going to fight back,” Oregon head coach Nils Schylander said. “I think we answered that punch really well though and came back to win some huge breakers.”
Laurent played in the No.1 spot once again for the Ducks and proved that he belongs there as he competed in his first collegiate match against a ranked opponent. Laurent dominated all facets of the first set against Gaucho’s No. 1 Morgan Mays en route to a 6-2 win, and he continued to command the match with a 4-0 start in the second set. But Mays tallied off four straight wins and held a 6-5 lead at one point with a chance to take the second set.
Laurent regained momentum with a win in the next game to tie the set at 6-6 and force a tiebreaker. In the tie-breaker, he masterfully navigated his way to a 7-0 win to clinch the match, just seconds after Oregon sophomore Stevens had won a tiebreaker of his own on the next court over to earn a 6-1, 7-6 victory over Nicolas Moreno in the No. 3 slot.
Stevens’ victory gave the Ducks a 3-0 team lead. Laurent’s win put the Ducks ahead 4-0 to clinch the team win.
“We both had kind of the same match,” Stevens said of he and Laurent’s respective matches. “The first set was easy … It was good. And then, in the second set, the other guys started playing way better and we had to step up our game.”
“We had a lot of important points to play and we did well. I think that’s very important for the next match: that we play those important points the right way.”
Mays, a sophomore transfer from Wake Forest was complimentary of Laurent’s play and admitted that had been preparing all week to face Oregon senior Daan Maasland — Oregon’s presumed number one player whom Mays faced in a tournament last fall.
“We had nothing on (Laurent),” Mays said. “He was pretty consistent and I was missing some shots… So it took some time adjusting. He was a good competitor and he came up with some good shots at the end.”
After experiencing second-set struggles of his own, Maasland prevailed for another Duck victory over UCSB No. 2 Nathan Eshmade by a score of 6-4, 6-4.
Jayson Amos (6-2, 6-1), Cormac Clissold (6-3, 6-7, 1-0), and Ethan Young-Smith (6-5, 3-6, 1-0) earned wins for the Ducks as well.
The win improves Oregon’s record to 3-0, and they have now won 20 of their first 21 matches this season.
Follow Jarrid on Twitter @jdenney50
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