The UCSB women’s tennis team is looking to keep the momentum rolling this weekend in its doubleheader on Saturday, facing both Cal State Stanislaus and Cal State Bakersfield.
The Gauchos (1-1 overall) began season play just last weekend. After losing a dramatic match to Santa Clara in the last match, Santa Barbara outlasted the rain and the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona, blanking them for a 5-0 score.
“Yes, [the big win] kind of built up confidence,” junior Jill Damion said. “But at the same time, we expected to win.”
The Gauchos are favorites in both matches this weekend, but cannot look past either team. The Warriors of Stanislaus, a Division II powerhouse, have returned much of their team from last year, making them the fourth-best team in the Division II Western Regional rankings.
The Warriors (0-0 overall) are led by junior Verena Preikschas and senior Vanesa Reibstein, who are ranked 32nd and 45th nationally among Division II competitors. Despite the threat Stanislaus seems to pose, UCSB remains confident in its ability to win.
“We’re looking forward to playing,” Damion added. “And we’re definitely expecting to win.”
After facing the Warriors, the Gauchos will then have to battle with the Bakersfield Roadrunners (1-3 overall) in the same day.
“It will be rough playing two matches on one day,” Damion said. “It will be a challenge in itself.”
The Roadrunners started their season off rather slowly, losing their first three matches. They were blanked by both San Francisco and Santa Clara, before losing 1-6 to Northern Arizona. Their one win came last Friday against Westmont College.
Given their immense talent and mental strength, the Gauchos are not fazed by their doubleheader, believing they will still be able to defeat Bakersfield.
“We expect to win,” Damion said. “It’s the mentality our coach has instilled in us. Losing is something we just don’t think about.”
Head Coach Pete Kirkwood firmly believes in the talent and capability of his team. Hoping to hoist the Big West Championship trophy above his head at the end of the season, Kirkwood believes his team can play with anybody.
“It doesn’t matter who is on the other side of the net,” Kirkwood said. “We need to focus on what we need to do and play as hard as we can.”
Although Kirkwood believes his team is capable of winning the conference championship this season, he believes work still must be done before then.
“There are a lot of things we can still get better at,” Kirkwood said. “These matches allow us to work on these things to improve.”
A shortened version of this article appeared in the Sports Briefs on page 4 of February 4, 2011’s print edition of the Nexus.