In its second tournament of the season, the UCSB women’s tennis team will travel to San Diego for the ITA Southwest Regional held from Thursday, Oct. 21 through Monday, Oct. 25.
“The exciting thing about this tournament is the chance to play against some big schools and good competition like USC and UCLA,” Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said. “This is a tournament that can make you famous overnight.”
UCSB is sending four players — senior Jill Damion, freshman Kiersten Meehen and juniors Natalia Lozano and Jordan Dockendorf — to compete against schools from throughout the southwest region including Pepperdine, UC San Diego, San Diego State, UC Irvine, Arizona State, Cal Poly, Loyola Marymount, UCLA, UC Riverside and USC.
“I’m massively stoked to play. I’ve been injured the last two years, and Regionals are a big deal,” team captain Jill Damion said. “People are looking to get ranked and go play in the NCAA National Tournament. And that’s what I’m looking to do. I love big tournaments. That’s when I play my best. It should be fun.”
All four women will compete in both the singles and doubles championships, with Lozano pairing up with Dockendorf and Damion with Meehan. The winners from each championship will advance to the 2010 USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, which takes place in Flushing, New York from Nov. 4 to Nov. 7.
“Jordan has a history of playing big against big players. She’s not intimidated,” Coach Kirkwood said. “She’s a banger. She’s got a chance to get hot and put pressure on her opponent.”
Coming off the UCSB Classic, the Gauchos look to improve with each tournament during the fall season. With the exception of highly recruited freshman Kiersten Meehan from Monte Sereno, CA, experience will play a large factor in this tournament, which is usually dominated by the Pac-10.
“Natalia Lozano is probably playing the best on our squad right now,” Coach Kirkwood said. “She’s improved every year, and so far this year she’s showing signs of that same kind of leap. She’s got a big game. She strikes the ball as good as anybody.”
UCSB women’s tennis managed to win a couple big matches in last years ITA Southwest Regional, despite failing to advance in either championship bracket. Lozano will try to avenge a tough third-round ousting in this year’s tournament.
“We’ve been playing against each other for the past three weeks. It will be good to play outside competition,” Lozano said.
The Gauchos are still awaiting the return of First Team All-Conference Sofia Novak, who is currently studying abroad in Spain. Daily results and recap from this weekend’s ITA Southwest Regional Tournament will be posted on www.ucsbgauchos.cstv.com.