Seniors Mathieu Forget from Geneva, Switzerland and Natalia Lozano from Valladolid, Spain helped lead the way for the UCSB men’s and women’s tennis teams this season. Last week, Forget was named First Team All-Big West and Lozano was named Second Team All-Big West in singles. The doubles teams of Forget and junior Mbonisi Ndimande, and Lozano and senior Jordan Dockendorf also earned First Team recognition.
What does it mean to you to earn these awards?
Natalia: It’s an honor being First Team doubles. We got Second Team before and this year we beat a couple ranked teams, so we did really well.
Mathieu: I’m really, really happy … to prove myself and prove my coaches they made good decisions getting me here. Anybody can do it if you put the work in.
David: Head coach Marty Davis [of the men’s team] was named Big West Coach of the Year—
M:Oh, he was?
M: Well I’m really happy for him … we had really good chemistry on our team and Marty was able to keep it together. He deserves it; I owe him a lot.
Junior Benjamin Recknagel was also named First Team and Ndimande was named Second Team in singles.
What is your biggest individual accomplishment?
M: Playing No. 1 my senior year. Freshman year I was maybe last on the team. Also, beating Fabian Matthews [of UC Irvine] twice who kicked my [butt] last year.
N: Improving during four years. Doubles was also really important, because I didn’t play doubles before and it became the most fun. I will always remember the win against the Ellison sisters [of San Diego State].
What is your biggest team accomplishment?
M: Winning Big West my freshman year; we were the underdogs for sure. But I think best of all is beating [No. 22] Texas Tech this year. I wasn’t able to win at No. 1 but I was so happy I didn’t even care; it was such a good team win.
N: When we beat Long Beach last year. Also Cal Poly’s match [in this year’s Big West Tournament] — that was amazing.
At what point did you know you would go to college in the United States?
N: I didn’t know [until] I met people from here who were studying in Spain, so I started looking at colleges. I was gonna give it a try but I didn’t even know I was gonna stay four years.
M: Two years before I graduated high school. I knew you could play sports. I didn’t get recruited but I wanted to go abroad, so I decided to take a year off and practice everyday and get a scholarship.
N: In Europe either you go pro or study, so this is the best opportunity someone ever gave me.
During your freshman year, how did you see yourself as a senior?
N: It was rough; it was a different way of life—
M: Different way of playing tennis, too. It’s so individual in Europe, so playing tennis on a team was kinda weird. But I told myself freshman year, “I’m gonna play No. 1 one day here.”
N: It’s been an unbelievable experience for four years; we’ve grown a lot and are completely different people now.
M: It’s funny ‘cause we were neighbors freshman year, and now realizing we’re both seniors is just crazy. It’s crazy it went that fast.
Plans for next year?
N: I’m definitely hoping I can stay around SB and find a job. I’m always gonna be linked to tennis and maybe play in tournaments for fun.
M: I’m still debating if I want to play on the tour for a little bit or follow my passion about performing … I love performing so much and definitely think I’m gonna get a job in Los Angeles. From then on, just audition for any music videos, movies — anything.
One word or phrase your teammates use most often to describe you?
M: Baby Beast. I used to be the baby on the team, but then when I started winning a lot they said I was going beast mode.
N: Funny. But I don’t know if I would say that.
M: No, you’re funny.
N: They always give me [crap] about my accent. You can put that. Sometimes I’m not trying to be funny and they think I’m hilarious because of my accent.
What is the hardest part about playing tennis?
N: You are by yourself. If you’re having a bad day, you have to stay out there as long as you can for your team.
M: It’s such a nerve-wracking sport and it’s demanding physically … and mentally, you have to stay focused. Losing a couple points might mean lose you the match. It’s stamina.
N: [The best part is] it helps you grow. It makes you more responsible, and I think that’s why both teams have the highest GPA.
M: It teaches you how to stay focused for a long time and manage your time. You have to find a solution by yourself, which is where the nerve-wracking part comes in … you have to use your entire body.
N: You talk too much.
One person who you enjoy competing against the most?
M: Fabian Matthews. [This year it was] one of my best wins. He used to beat me really bad. In the Big West Tournament when I knew I had to play him again I knew it wasn’t gonna be easy, and winning it when it’s tough is even more satisfying.
N: Zoë Scandalis [of USC], she was No. 10 in the country. It started really bad but I came back in the second set and was playing really good, and then I was the only one on the court at the end and everyone was watching.
If you could be any fruit or vegetable, what would it be?
M: Apple. Or coconut — they’re exotic.
N: Grapes, because you can get so many things from them.
M: If it was anything else, it would be candy. I eat candy 24/7.