This weekend, the No. 64 UCSB women’s tennis team travels to Indian Wells for the Big West Championship Tournament. The Gauchos (13-9 overall, 5-3 Big West) are the fourth seed and will take on fifth-seeded Pacific (8-11, 4-4) in the first round on Friday.
UCSB hopes to improve upon last year’s performance, where the team lost in the semifinals to eventual tournament-winner UC Irvine.
“We’ve been training really hard this week and last week so hopefully it all pays off,” junior Jordan Dockendorf said.
UCSB will have to win three straight matches and win the conference tournament in order to advance to the NCAA Tournament. The Gauchos will look to avenge an April 10 road loss to Pacific that came down to the final match, which the Tigers won.
“We’re going in pretty confident,” Dockendorf said. “It’s going to be tough, but we weren’t healthy and didn’t have our regular lineup [when we played them in the regular season]. Hopefully it’ll go our way this time.”
The Gauchos were not at full strength in that match, with Dockendorf and senior Jill Damion limited by injuries. This weekend is a different story.
“Everyone’s beatable on any given day,” Dockendorf said. “[But we think] if everyone was healthy it would have gone a different way.”
A win over the Tigers would advance UCSB to the second round on Saturday, against the winner of first seed and national No. 40 Long Beach State and eighth-seeded Cal State Fullerton. Long Beach has taken the Big West Tournament for the eighth time in recent years. The Gauchos were the only Big West team to beat them in the regular season over the past three years, with a victory coming in March.
“Our only way into the NCAA Tournament is to win the Big West, so we’ll [likely] have to beat Long Beach again,” Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said.
The team had no qualms about the likelihood of taking on Long Beach State again.
“Anything is possible if we’re all playing well,” Dockendorf said. “We can definitely beat them, but they’re a tough team and it was close last time, so it could go either way. We don’t have anything to lose.”
If the Gauchos were to make it that far, second seed Cal Poly would likely be their opponent in Sunday’s finals match.
“That would be an incredible match,” Dockendorf said. “The regular season match was our first Big West match and we didn’t really know what to expect — especially our freshman — but everyone has grown so much, so it would be a totally different turnout if we get a chance to play them.”
Today’s match is set for 3 p.m. at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.