Bayane and Houghton shine in Santa Barbara

Gracie Malley/Senior Staff

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The Cal duo of sophomore Gregory Bayane and freshman Wyatt Houghton conquered at the UCSB Classic this weekend.

From Oct. 12 to 14, three freshmen and two sophomores from the Cal men’s tennis team traveled to Santa Barbara, Calif., to battle schools such as Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara.

Most of the players — Bayane, Nikhil Jayashankar, Jordan Smith, Stuart Miller and Houghton — were able to compete in at least two matches because the tournament featured three flights for both singles and doubles.

Bayane finished the tournament undefeated and won his singles flight, while Houghton reached the Flight B singles finals. The doubles duo of Bayane-Houghton won two matches but lost in the final Flight A doubles match to Cal Poly’s duo of Jordan Bridge and Jordan Kepler.

“Greg and Wyatt played exceptionally well this weekend,” head coach Peter Wright said. “The rest of our guys got a couple matches in too, so it was an overall positive weekend.”

Two of the Bears had to default, however, due to injury. After losing his first set to George Horowitz of UC Davis in Flight B singles, Miller defaulted during his second set due to wrist tendonitis.

Jayashankar played two doubles and one singles match before he had to pull out due to a shoulder injury.

On Friday, Houghton defeated Kepler, 6-4, 7-5, in Flight B singles. He went on to top Santa Barbara’s Jake Johnson and Sasha Gryaznov in three and two sets, respectively.

However, Houghton could not find the momentum to defeat a third Gaucho and was bested in two sets by Benjamin Recknagel on Sunday.

Similarly, he and doubles partner Bayane fought to the final doubles round in Flight A, taking two matches across Friday and Saturday. Yet when it came to the final matchup, Bayane and Houghton fell to Bridge and Kepler, 8-3.

“Throughout the season, we’ll try different doubles pairings to see how they play with each other,” Wright said. “This weekend we had an opportunity to see how Greg and Wyatt played, and they had a great performance.”

Bayane, fresh off his singles win at the Aggie Invitational last weekend, stole all his singles matches this weekend to claim the Flight A singles title.

Down to his last match in the Flight A singles final, Bayane went head-to-head with Santa Barbara’s Axel Boullin. Originally down a break in both sets, Bayane fought back towards the end of each set with volleys and overhead shots to nab a 7-5, 7-5 victory.

According to Wright, Bayane used the momentum and confidence he gained from his recent success to defeat his opponents this weekend.

“He was clearly pushed to the limits today,” Wright said. “The mental toughness he gained from all the positive results from the past week really helped him come through.”

Wright hopes that the team will be better prepared for one of its larger preseason tournaments: the ITA Northwest Regionals Championships on Oct. 19.

“It was an intense weekend full of matches,” Wright said. “But we came out here and accomplished what we wanted to do.”

Janice Chua covers men’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected]