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With the UCSB women’s tennis season officially at a close, the important offseason begins, with a main point of interest involving the process of recruiting.
For Santa Barbara, the recruiting this offseason has been rather unique. Despite only recruiting one player, the Gauchos and Head Coach Simon Thibodeau find themselves pleased and in a strong position for next season.
Santa Barbara has so far added Natalie Da Silveira to its roster for next season. Da Silveira, a five-star recruit out of Ojai, California is one of the top prospects in the state and UCSB has beaten out other schools such as UCLA and USC to obtain her.
“I have seen her play multiple times at the Weil Tennis Academy in Ojai where she logged many hours. She is strong, a top Californian and will appear in the top six singles position,” Thibodeau said. “Natalie will perform at a top level. We are very lucky to have recruited her. She looks to be a great student and leader for our team.”
This past season, the team went 8-16 with a conference record of 4-4. The Gauchos moved to the second round of the Big West Tournament after defeating UC Davis in the first round 4-0, but the women’s season came to an end after the second round defeat by top-seeded Long Beach St. 0-4. Through its recruits, UCSB looks to become an even stronger team next year.
“We like to build our team around strong Californians and then two or three out-of-state players who can add to the team as well. With these players, we can boast our team rankings, hopefully getting into the top 60 and becoming a heavy contender in the Big West Tourney,” Thibodeau said.
The women’s team likes to build their team around California prospects because it allows them to give more scholarships to in-state players. Out-of-state players receive substantially less of a scholarship and are therefore harder to recruit a top prospect. By recruiting Da Silveira, the Gauchos have really put themselves in a win-win situation, gaining a top Californian prospect, while allowing a larger scholarship to be rewarded.
Coach Thibodeau is currently in contact with a few possible out-of-state recruits he has been observing since January. UCSB has become a top school of interest for prospects; a reputation that has really improved in the two years that Thibodeau has coached the team.
“With the addition of Natalie and the out-of-state prospects, we will improve and next year we will be a stronger team than this past season,” Thibodeau said. “Our rankings have been continuously rising, and through donations we have successfully been able to raise our scholarships for future players. You could say that things are getting exciting here at UCSB for women’s tennis.”