Coming off a three week break, the UCSB’s Women’s Tennis team will look to bounce back after a rough start to the season. It has been a frustrating start for No. 60 UCSB dropping one spot in the rankings after suffering 3 straight losses against top 50 nationally ranked opponents. They hope to begin the turnaround this weekend against a trio of unranked opposition consisting of Memphis, Washington State, and conference rivals UC Davis.
The Gauchos head into the weekend with a 0-3 record to start the season after losses to No. 2 USC, No. 38 Oklahoma, and No. 50 Utah. All three losses by Santa Barbara were decided by key plays down the stretch that could have gone the other way.
“We are disappointed because we could be 3-0 but now we are 0-3.” Head Coach Doug Thibodeau said. “It was not a game but a shot that lost us these matches.”
UCSB’s bright spot this season has been Junior Stefani Stojic and sophomore Palina Dubavets who are currently ranked No. 10 in doubles play. The highly ranked pair have been battle tested this season against strong opponents facing and defeating the No. 4 Doubles duo in the country, senior Giuliana Olmos and sophomore Gabby Smith from USC.
Although Santa Barbara is comprised of a young squad without a single senior, it has shown the promise to continue growing week by week, and set by set.
“We have such a new team,we want to play good from start to finish. Everyone needs to step up, and really focus especially the first two or three shots,” Coach Thibodeau explains. “To show up like this, and tune up the team as the season goes on. There will be more potential to move up in the rankings.”
Even with the rankings showcasing the recent standouts, UCSB has plenty of depth and quality ready for the opportunity to demonstrate what it is capable of. Its first test will come in the morning half of a saturday double-header against the Memphis Tigers. The Tigers began the seasn with a victory but has lost it’s last three matches.
The evening portion of saturday’s contest will be against a Washington state team that has been cruising past opponents. The Cougars are coming into the weekend’s dual meet with an impressive eight game win streak, shutting out opponents 7-0 on six different occasions. Although they have not faced any ranked opponents, Washington will undoubtedly use this opportunity to test their mettle against no. 60 UCSB.
UCSB will finish the weekend with a conference match against UC Davis. The Aggies are currently 3-2 in the season so far, defeating university of Pacific, Portland State, and UC San Diego but falling short to Santa Clara and San Diego State. They will face Santa Barbara a day after facing UCLA.
Despite disappointing results Coach Thibodeau continues to work towards the goals set for the young UCSB team at the start of the 2016 season. The Gauchos expect to bounce back from their 4-3 losses and continue their way up the ranks.
“We have high expectations, we want to be a top 25 team by the end of the season. We are not afraid,” Coach Thibodeau said. “We can not be afraid to win.”
The first half of the saturday double headers will be held at the UCSB Recreational Center Court at 9 am PST followed by an evening contest at 5 pm PST at Ellings Park.