Conference play opened this past Saturday and Sunday for the UCSB women’s tennis team as it looked to pull out the upset over strong Big West contender and No. 44 UC Irvine, but fell to the Anteaters 6-1. The Gauchos then rebounded for a win over Fullerton Sunday.
The Gauchos came into the Irvine match with a strong mentality as they arrived with the healthiest crew so far this season. The Anteaters were too strong however, and handed UCSB a tough loss 6-1. With the loss, UCSB’s record dropped to 1-7 with a conference record of 0-1 while the victory boosts UC Irvine to 4-5 overall with an undefeated record of 2-0 in conference play.
Junior April Scatliffe started at number one singles for the Gauchos on Saturday and played a strong competitive match against senior Marivick Mamiit. Scatliffe came out on top in the match which ended in a shootout 6-2, 5-7, 10-6.
Second singles play also involved a close duel between Santa Barbara freshman Kaiulani Boyer and UCI sophomore Sarah Gong. Boyer dropped the first set quickly, but battled back to win the second set. Gong simply overpowered Boyer in the third set and closed the match with a final score of 6-1, 4-6, 6-1.
The Gauchos came close to a second victory in the fifth singles match, which featured junior Stacy Yam and Irvine junior Kat Facey. The match resulted in a third set tiebreak in which Facey prevailed over Yam 6-1, 5-7, 10-6.
The afternoon clearly spelt out a theme of domination on Irvine’s end. This is one of the Big West’s fiercest opponents and the Gauchos were aware of this coming into the match.
The Gauchos then headed north to face Cal State Fullerton on Sunday where they arose with a win in a 4-3 decision. With the win, the Gauchos improved to 1-1 in conference play while Fullerton dropped to 2-7 overall with a winless 0-4 record in conference play.
This was a hard sought after win for the Gauchos, who split the six singles matches 3-3. The match came down to doubles play where the UCSB duo Boyer/Luisa Ortiz Candido defeated Fullerton’s Kalika Slevcove/Alexis Valenzuela in an eight-game pro set 8-4 and led UCSB to their first win in five matches.
This win may act as a booster for Santa Barbara, which had dealt with many hardships this season in terms of injury and dominant opponents. With conference just getting under way, this win at Fullerton may act as the spark the Gauchos need to push themselves into the win column.
The Gauchos will travel to San Jose State this Saturday, March 1 for their next match. Play is set to begin at noon.
This article is an online exclusive and did not appear in the print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Peter Vandenbelt of the Daily Nexus.