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With the regular season at a close, the UCSB women’s tennis team looks to head to Indian Wells for the Big West Tournament, where the Gauchos are the fifth seed.
Santa Barbara heads into the Big West Tournament with an overall record of 7-14 with a 4-3 mark in conference play. The season began slowly for the Gauchos, mainly because they were dealing with numerous injuries and were in the process of producing their finest lineup through weekly changes at the first and second singles spot. The Gauchos dealt with multiple losing streaks in the first half of the season, including a five-game skid spanning from February 2-22.
The second half of the season involved a large transformation for Santa Barbara, especially in the case of productivity. With improved offense and a healthier squad, the Gauchos turned their season around with convincing team wins against robust opponents such as Sacramento State and Cal State Northridge. UCSB is also heading into the tournament winning three of the last four matches.
“We’re doing a boot camp right now two times a day, every day, so I feel that we will definitely be in shape,” senior Kiersten Meehan said. “It is at least 20 degrees hotter down there, so being in good shape definitely will work in our favor. It’s not just fatigue; many girls have previously cramped or gotten sick in the heat, so I think this preparation will give us a bit of an upper hand when it comes to the conditions near Palms Springs this time of year,” Meehan said.
With the fifth seed in the Big West Tournament, the Gauchos are set to meet UC Davis in the first round. UC Davis has had a year somewhat similar to the Gauchos in terms of conference play with a 4-3 record. Yet, the Aggies have a much better overall record at 12-8 on the season.
The Gauchos will need the continued support of their strong team. Players like junior April Scatliffe and sophomore Priscila Garcia have been huge benefactors to the Gauchos in singles play. New additions to the team in freshmen Kaiulani Boyer and Jaimee Gilbertson have too supplied the extra willpower needed by UCSB to gain crucial wins.
Although UC Davis is a seed above Santa Barbara, UCSB should feel good about the matchup. In their only regular season meeting, Santa Barbara toppled the Aggies at home 6-1. If the Gauchos continue to play like they have in previous weeks, a win against UC Davis will not be far out of reach. In terms of the first round, the Gauchos should hope that history does indeed repeat itself.
The first round of the Big West Tournament is set to begin on Thursday, April 24 in Indian Wells.
This article is an online exclusive and did not appear in the print edition of The Daily Nexus.
Photo by Kenneth Song of The Daily Nexus.