The UCSB women’s tennis team will be back in action this weekend with their first home matches of the season. The Gauchos will play back-to-back matches against non-conference opponents, taking on Fresno Pacific on Saturday, before facing CSU Bakersfield on Sunday.
“[This weekend] is a stepping stone for getting better for the Big West,” Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said. “It’s always good to be at home and we’re definitely going to have the juices flowing.”
Fresno Pacific should prove to be a good test for Santa Barbara, but the home team certainly has its sights set on winning. The Sunbirds are not a Division I team like UCSB, but are a member of the less-competitive NAIA where they have been very successful. Last year the Sunbirds finished with an overall record of 24-2 and made it all the way to the finals of the NAIA National Championships where they lost to Auburn University Montgomery.
“They’re tough, but they’re nothing like Arizona State or Arizona,” Kirkwood said, referring to the tough opponents the Gauchos played to open their 2010 season. “It’s going to be a good match for us.”
The Gauchos catch a break on Sunday, playing a CSU Bakersfield team that they should have an easier time with. Last year the Roadrunners had their best season since moving into the Division I level but finished with just a 3-14 overall record. Nevertheless, Bakersfield is an improving team that UCSB cannot take lightly.
“The key is to play well and execute our game plans,” Kirkwood said. “We’re going to be playing our game, and if we do that, we do expect to beat them.”