The UCSB women’s tennis team is coming into top form with just a handful of matches left in the season. Saturday, the Gauchos defeated Loyola Marymount on the road 5-2 and carried the momentum home on the following day to beat Cal State Northridge 6-1 in a conference match. Santa Barbara is now 9-9 on the season with a 4-1 Big West record that has them sitting in third place in the conference.
“You should start peaking the closer you get to the [Big West] tournament … that better be when you’re playing your best and we’re definitely heading in that direction,” Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said.
UCSB began their Saturday match with a hot start, sweeping all three doubles matches and thus capturing the doubles point. Making their debut as a doubles pair, junior Tova Hausman and senior Bryanna Ojeda played great tennis together and won their match 8-2. Also making their debut as a doubles team, junior Jill Damion and freshman Annabel Gledden defeated their opponents 8-3. Sophomore pair Jordan Dockendorf and Natalia Lozano also found success as they won by a score of 8-4.
“If you look at our results, we haven’t been very successful in doubles so we changed it up,” Kirkwood said. “We feel our doubles is way stronger.”
In the singles matches, the Gauchos won four out of six to ensure their victory over LMU. At the #1 position, sophomore Sofia Novak played well enough to beat out Jan Pringle 6-3, 6-4. Lozano, playing at the #2 spot, defeated Estelle LaPorte 6-2, 6-2. The #5-positioned Dockendorf edged her way out of a tight first set and won her match against Bliss Nixon 7-6 (4), 6-2. Playing at #6, Hausman had no problem beating Audrey Bulkley 6-0, 6-2. The two losses came at #3, where Gledden lost to LMU’s Melissa Valenzuela 5-7, 4-6 and at #4 as Damion lost a tough three-setter 6-2, 4-6, 12-14.
Despite little rest, the team dominated play on Sunday in a very important conference match against CSUN. Maintaining the new doubles lineup from the previous day, UCSB won two of the three matches to take the doubles point. Hausman and Ojeda won 8-5 at the #1 position, while Dockendorf and Lozano won 8-3 in the #2 spot. In an extremely tight match at #3, Damion and Gledden fell 7-9.
The Gauchos nearly swept the singles matches from Northridge, winning five of the six with relative ease. The only loss for UCSB came at #4 singles, where Gledden won the first set but was forced to retire with a sore arm. Her score was 6-1, 2-0 before retiring.
“Those were probably our two best matches of the year as far as intensity and playing from start to finish,” Kirkwood said.