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Cal Poly Hosts UCSB in Rivalry Match Loaded with Postseason Implications

Alumni Social, Team Awards Dinner Also to be Held Saturday

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — With a bye into the semifinals of the upcoming championship tournament on the line, two of the top three teams in the Big West Conference standings will meet at 1 p.m. Saturday at Mustang Courts, where Cal Poly will host UC Santa Barbara for a Blue-Green Rivalry dual match on Senior Day.

The Gauchos (8-12, 3-0) are unbeaten in conference play, as is co-leader Hawai'i (6-10, 3-0), and the Feb. 16 match between those two was canceled outright due to rain. Thus, the winner of the Cal Poly-UCSB match will automatically earn one of the two byes.

For now, there's also still a scenario in which Cal Poly (8-12, 3-1) could clinch the top seed. For that to happen, the Mustangs would need a win coupled with a Hawai'i loss at UC Irvine (10-14, 0-3) at 2 p.m. Friday.

The tournament will be held from April 24-27 at Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The top two seeds wait until 3 p.m. April 25 to take on the winners of the two first-round matchups taking place at 9 a.m. April 24.

Before Saturday's match, there will be a program alumni social presented by Ernie Ball and Firestone Grill beginning at 10 a.m. next to Mustang Courts.

"We're excited," Cal Poly head coach Nick Carless said. "The alumni are going to be back, and on Senior Day there will also be a lot of families in town."

All but one of the four most recent meetings between the two Central Coast foes have come down to 4-3 margins of victory.

"Historically, Santa Barbara has always been one of the toughest teams, if not the toughest team in the conference," Carless added. "I'm sure Saturday will be just as close — a great match with great tennis."

After the match, supporters are also welcomed to attend the inaugural Mustang Tennis Team Awards Dinner, which will be hosted by Tennis Connect SLO at San Luis Obispo Country Club from 5 to 7 p.m. Tickets, $25 per person, cover hors d'oeuvres; for more information, call 541-4864.

The Mustangs took control of third place with a 4-3 home win over UC Davis (13-10, 2-3) this past weekend.

In a performance that earned him conference player of the week and Coca-Cola Cal Poly Student-Athlete of the Week honors, Cal Poly freshman Ben Donovan (15-9 overall) came back from an opening-set loss at No. 1 singles to defeat Alec Adamson 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2. In the middle set — with the team trailing 3-2 and on the brink of defeat — he saved match points four times.

The team's three seniors also played a huge role in the win, as Marco Comuzzo and Matt Thomson, as well as Jurgen De Jager (teaming with Donovan), helped clinch the doubles point earlier in the day.

De Jager (pictured at far right) also went on to win on the No. 3 singles court, improving to a team-best 13-2, before Thomson ultimately clinched the win at No. 5.

For the defending conference champion Gauchos, junior Tobias Galskov brings in a 9-4 record while playing at the top of the lineup. Galskov has also helped account for a 6-2 run playing No. 1 doubles alongside Ziad Sultan.