Senior co-captain Joseph Guillin became the first player in UCSB men’s tennis history to win the ITA Southwest Regional singles title after defeating USC’s Stefan Dostanic in three sets, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Guillin battled back from down 5-4 (40-30) in the final set to take the win. The senior first fired a serve from Dostanic right back across the net to force deuce.
In the deciding point, Guillin continued firing shots across court, making Dostanic run and eventually forced him to hit the ball out.
“At that point, I was just thinking of fighting every point. I was already thinking about going back home and thinking about how sad I would be and how I could not celebrate with my teammates but I told myself to keep fighting and seeing what happens and it went well,” Guillin said.
Guillin then held serve at 5-5 and broke the USC freshman one more time to win the title. An elated Guillin fell to the floor, then went over and hugged his head coach, Marty Davis.
“I just told him he made history,” Davis, who is entering his 21st year as head coach, said.
Guillin joins Morgan Mays and Simon Freund as the only Gauchos to win at the ITA Southwest Regionals as Mays/Freund won the doubles title in 2016.
With the win, Guillin also advances to the ITA National Fall Championships, the third of four major championships of the year in NCAA men’s tennis. Last year, Guillin lost in the round of 32 in straight sets.
“It’s only the top players at this tournament so I know it will be a challenge but I want to keep improving my game. My goal is to be at least top 15 in the nation at the end of the fall and I know I could beat these guys and I hope to win,” Guillin said.
At the ITA Southwest Regional, Guillin beat four players from USC along the way to his title, including two back-to-back as in the semifinals he beat sophomore Mor Bulis before.
“It’s pretty fun beating the trojans. The Trojans dominated the tournament. By the final day, there were only Trojans, Gauchos and one player from Pepperdine. Every other team was eliminated so it’s always nice beating them,” Davis said.
The win is also another milestone for a UCSB program that has grown substantially the past few seasons.
The Gauchos have won five straight Big West titles, won a round at the NCAA Championships last year and has had multiple Gauchos in the ITA singles rankings throughout the years.
Guillin, ranked No. 28 in the ITA singles preseason rankings, was the No. 2 seed coming into this tournament.
It’s another sep forward for our program. We have been doing well every year now. And Joe winning isn’t some shock. We expect him to beat these guys and the rankings respect that as well. Overall though, it is just super sweet to take home to the title,” Davis said.
Guillin will take part in the ITA National Fall Championships beginning on Nov. 6.