Men's Tennis History


UC Santa Cruz Men's Tennis has become one of the most dominant athletic programs in the country. The Slugs have been to the Final Four of the NCAA Division III National Team Championships nineteen times in the last twenty three years and have reached the finals thirteen times. The Slug's first NCAA National Championship came in 1989 in a barn burner against rival Swarthmore College. The title was an exclamation point to a 20-1 season which included wins over 10 Division I scholarship program. After coming up short in the finals three times, the Slugs second National Championship came in 1995 with a 4-1 victory over defending champion Washington College. Although the Slugs returned their entire National Championship team from 1995, the 1996 Championship proved to be an uphill fight when Noah Rippner, ranked #3 in singles and #1 in doubles nationally, had to leave the team for medical reasons. The team overcame what looked like an insurmountable deficit to a tough Gustavus Adolphus team in the semi-finals, down 1-0 and down a set in four of the six singles matches. The Slugs pulled through beating Gustavus and then beat host Emory University in the finals for their "Back to Back" National Championship in 1996. The Slugs returned to the winners circle in 1998 by defeating host Williams College by a score of 4-2. After being close many times the Slugs won number 5 in thrilling fashion at home if front of our fantastic fans in 2005. This marked the first time since going to a team format that any team had won the triple crown as the Slugs won the team and the individual singles and doubles NCAA National Championships.

The Slugs struck gold again in 2007 going undefeated against Div lll opponents all season in winning their second ITA National Indoor Team Championship and becoming the first team ever to follow up the Indoor Team Title with an NCAA Team Championship, number six for the Slugs, by defeating Emory University in the final in St Louis by a score of 5-1.  After losing in the regional final in 2008 the Slugs rebounded with an impressive late season charge going 15-0 in doubles during the NCAA Tournament!  Ranked as low as eighth in the country a month from the tournament the Slugs found their stride! These strong doubles results led to winning four of our five matches, including the finals against Amherst College, by scores of 5-0!  The toughest match of the tournament in route to our seventh NCAA Team Title came in the semi finals against longtime rival Emory University.  This battle came down to the final match where we got straight set singles wins from two newcomers to the singles lineup, Ilya Gendelman who got us to four points and Marc Vartabedian who clinched the match.

The Banana Slugs have played one of the toughest regular season schedules in the country, playing seven to eight of the top fifteen ranked Div lll teams in the country every year. The Slugs have compiled a 179-7 regular season record during this steak and were undefeated for the 90's against Division III opponents going 76-0. At the first ITA National Indoor Team Championship in 2000, the Slugs made an impressive run defeating Gustaphus Adolphus in the semifinals and Emory University in the finals to claim the Championship.

UCSC also has a tradition of dominance in the NCAA Individual Championships. During this impressive run in the team tournament, UCSC has produced 111 All-American selections. UC Santa Cruz won its first NCAA Individual Championship in 1994 when Ron Ward and Jonathan Harper won the National Doubles Championship.

UCSC's first singles national championship came in the fall of the 1995-96 season as Josh Vining captured the Rolex Division III National Singles Championship. He and teammate Bryan Shapiro also won the Rolex Division III National Doubles Championship. That same year, Josh and Bryan won the NCAA National Division III Doubles Championship, defeating teammates Jonathan Harper and Brian Cummings in the all-Slug final.

1998 produced another all Slug final as Brian Cummings and Thomas Oechel defeated Josh Goodley and Peter Gladkin in a close three set match. Thomas and Brian won the National Rolex Small College Championships in Memphis the following year and then won their second NCAA National Doubles Championship. Thomas Oechel became UC Santa Cruz's first NCAA Singles Champion when he defeated teammate and doubles partner Brian Cummings in the 1999 NCAA singles final. In 2000 Thomas Oechel and Peter Gladkin won every Div lll doubles match they played. They won the Rolex Division lll National Doubles and NCAA Doubles Championships.

In the Fall of 2000, our doubles success continued as Derek Fitzpatrick and Nick Cunningham won the Naional Rolex Small College Div lll Doubles Championship and advanced to the final of the Rolex Small College Super Bowl. At the NCAA Individual championships, Nick and Derek won the Doubles Championship, and Derek won UCSC's second NCAA Singles Crown.

Kevin Casey won the ITA Small College Singles National Championship in the fall of 2003. Matt Seeberger rewrote the record book by winning back to back NCAA singles titles in his freshman and sophomore seasons. In 2005 he did it all by leading the team to the NCAA Team Championship and then won the NCAA singles title and the doubles championship with partner Matt Brunner to cap a triple crown at home. In 2006 Matt won the Fall ITA Small College National Singles Championship and his second NCAA National Doubles Championship with partner Shane Templeman.  In 2007 Seeberger turned the record book upside down by claiming his second triple crown.  After winning the team title he won his third singles NCAA Singles Championship and then won his third NCAA National Doubles Championship with partner Max Ortiz.