The Blue-Green Rivalry will take on some extra significance this weekend at Mustang Courts.
Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara each bring undefeated conference records into the de facto Big West men’s tennis championship match at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Having won their last five matches, the Mustangs (13-8, 4-0 Big West) appear in strong position to make a run at the school’s first regular-season title since 2012.
First, they’ll have to go through a red-hot Gauchos squad that is ranked in the top-50 nationally and owns a 14-6 overall record.
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The winner of Saturday’s match will earn the No. 1 seed at the Big West Conference Tournament next week at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara have proven to be the teams to beat at that event over the last four years. The Mustangs won Big West tournament titles in 2012 and 2014, and the Gauchos hoisted the tournament trophy in 2013 and 2015.
Cal Poly junior Corey Pang, a second-team all-conference performer last spring, enters Saturday’s match playing as well as anyone in the Big West. Pang has won 12 consecutive matches in dual play, improving his record at the No. 3 singles position to 17-4 this season.
Pang hasn’t lost since Feb. 21, and the Mustangs are 10-2 overall during that stretch.
First-team all-Big West returners Ben Donovan (No. 1) and Garrett Auproux (No. 2) have each won 10 matches in singles play this year. They will likely be paired against UC Santa Barbara’s Nathan Eshmade at No. 1 and Nicolas Moreno in the No. 2 position.
In doubles play, Auproux and Tim Tan bring a four-matching winning streak into a rivalry that has been largely one-sided in recent years. The Mustangs are 8-1 against the Gauchos in the last nine regular-season meetings and haven’t been beaten in San Luis Obispo since 2006.
Bennett honored by Big West
Cal Poly senior decathlete Devin Bennett was selected as the Big West Conference Men’s Field Athlete of the Week on Tuesday following his standout effort at the 46th-annual California Combined Events Invitational.
Bennett turned in the third 7,000-point performance of his career, finishing the competition with a career-high 7,118 points to earn the No. 5 mark on Cal Poly’s all-time list.
Bennett’s impressive showing was highlighted by a personal-best mark in the 1,500 meters when he crossed the finish line second in 4 minutes, 21.10 seconds.
The Big West Multi-Event Championships begin May 6 at Jack Rose Track in Long Beach. Bennett placed second in the decathlon at the Big West Championships as a sophomore in 2014.
Mustangs set to host Cal, CSUN
On the heels of a three-game sweep of Long Beach State, the Cal Poly softball team returns to Bob Janssen Field this week to begin its longest home stand in four years.
The Mustangs limited the 49ers to one run last weekend en route to their first Big West Conference victories of the season. Sophomore Lindsey Chalmers pitched two complete-game shutouts to earn the first Big West Pitcher of the Week honor of her career.
Cal Poly (19-17) hopes to carry that momentum into a noon doubleheader Thursday against Pac-12 opponent Cal. The Golden Bears (21-17-1) have won four straight meetings with the Mustangs and own a 15-4 all-time record in the series.
Sophomore utility player Stephanie Heyward brings a 10-game hitting streak into Thursday’s games. She has been one of the most productive players in the Mustangs’ lineup this spring, and her .389 batting average ranks fourth among Big West competitors.
Heyward has delivered a team-high 12 multi-hit games and scored 20 times from the leadoff spot.
Cal Poly continues its eight-game home stand at 1 p.m. Saturday against a CSUN team that sits second in the Big West standings.