The #64 UCSB women’s tennis team lost a pair of conference matches over the weekend, 4-3 to Pacific on Sunday and 5-2 to #65 UC Davis on Saturday, giving the Aggies their first win against a ranked opponent this season. The Gauchos (11-9 overall, 4-3 Big West) have lost seven of their last nine matches and are now in fifth place in the Big West with two games remaining on their schedule.
“This weekend was [definitely] a heartbreaker,” senior Jill Damion said. “But maybe it’s good for us because maybe it’ll motivate us to not screw up like that again.”
A winner wasn’t decided against Pacific (8-8 overall, 4-2 Big West) until the final match. The Gauchos earned the doubles point by winning the #2 and #3 doubles matches for the second straight day. Then three of the six singles contests went to three sets. Junior Natalia Lozano was defeated by Julia Hansen 5-7, 6-0, 7-6 at #2 singles, while Damion won #3 singles 7-5, 0-6, 7-5 over Olga Gumenyuk. In what turned out to be the decisive match, sophomore Erica Cano was defeated by Kateryna Nezhura 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.
“It was close,” Lozano said. “After we won doubles and then went up 3-2 and it was looking really good, but we didn’t finish strong. There was a big crowd there, it felt like the Big West Tournament. Next time we play in those conditions we’ll make sure we don’t make the same mistakes.”
Damion and junior Jordan Dockendorf both had to deal with injuries, which resulted in Head Coach Pete Kirkwood altering the team’s usual line-up. Dockendorf only played doubles against the Tigers.
“Injuries aren’t really an excuse, we had our chances,” Damion said. “[The deciding match] was Erica’s first real match, which could have gone either way.”
Saturday’s match followed a similar pattern. The Gauchos jumped to a 1-0 lead after winning the doubles point against UC Davis (15-4 overall, 5-1 Big West). However, the team lost five of its six singles matches.
“Everyone was fired up but we were short in singles,” Lozano said. “We know we can do it, it was just a bad day. We can turn it around in a big way [this weekend]”.
With one more conference match left to improve their position in the Big West Tournament, the Gauchos will be excited for a chance at redemption at either of these teams.
“I would love to play Davis or Pacific again,” Lozano said.
Next up for UCSB are home matches against Loyola Marymount on Saturday and UC Irvine on Sunday at Robertson Gymnasium Courts.