The UCSB women’s tennis team concluded with a successful 2016 season despite exiting the NCAA tournament in both team and doubles competition.
At the beginning of the 2015-2016 campaign, Head Coach Simon Thibodeau set sights high for this young roster.
Despite not achieving their goal of a top-25 finish set at the beginning of the season, the Gauchos have accumulated a plethora of accomplishments this season.
With his invaluable experience, Thibodeau has formed this team and program back into shape reminiscent of the early 90s when Big West Championships were to be expected. During his fourth season with Santa Barbara, Thibodeau reached a coaching milestone by sweeping UC Davis and winning his 200th match as a coach.
Other personal accomplishments include a breakout season by junior Stefani Stojic and sophomore Palina Dubavets.
Both transferring into the program this season, the two players really came into their own and hit the ground running. Ranked No. 22 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, Stojic and Dubavets participated in the NCAA tournament, becoming just the second Gaucho pair to play in the Round of 16.
In addition to the milestones listed, the Gauchos also avenged last year’s Big West Conference final loss to CSU Long Beach by winning their first conference title in 20 years with a win over Hawaii to earn an NCAA Tournament bid.
Santa Barbara made the trip a tournament to remember as it knocked off the University of Kansas in the first round with a 4-3 victory and earned a chance to face No. 2 UC Berkeley in the second stage.
Despite being swept in the second round by such a highly ranked team, UCSB’s efforts have earned it a current ranking of No. 56 in ITA standings, an encouraging sign of the team’s future upside.
Currently, the Gauchos will have all 11 athletes eligible for return in the upcoming season. With no senior on the roster, all starters are expected to start and, with a heavy recruiting class, UCSB will be a team to look out for.