The No. 47 UCSB women’s tennis team suffered a heartbreaking 4-0 loss to No. 23 UCLA over the weekend in its first round matchup of the NCAA tournament.
The meet began with doubles play in which UCLA freshman Ena Shibahara and junior Kristin Wiley defeated Gaucho sophomore Stephanie Yamada and junior Natalie Da Silveira 6-1, giving the Bruins the early 1-0 lead. The impact of Shibahara was a certainty to be felt, and the Gauchos’ inability to limit Shibahara’s effect on the match was not a good sign early in the meet.
In the next completed match, the No. 58 Bruin tandem of sophomores Gabby Andrews and Alaina Miller went on to defeat junior Amanda Atanasson and senior Melissa Baker, 6-2. Atanasson and Baker were key players in the Gauchos’ impressive run to get into the tournament, but the two were unable to come together in doubles play.
The match on court one between UCLA’s No. 32 redshirt freshman Jada Hart and junior Terri Fleming and the classic pair of No. 66 junior Palina Dubavets and senior Stefani Stojic was left unfinished after the clinching victory by Andrews and Miller on court two. With the Bruins capturing the early lead 1-0, the meet continued on to singles play.
Beginning singles play were two extremely talented players who have been crucial to their respective teams all season, UCLA’s No. 5 Shibahara and UCSB’s Dubavets. The two standouts battled heavily throughout the match, keeping a close score with every set.
However, it was Shibahara who was able to keep Dubavets away and earned the victory in two sets 6-3, 6-4. Up next was Stojic’s turn to try to turn it around for the Gauchos in her match against Miller. Stojic was able to win the first set 6-3, but Miller was able to complete the comeback as she went on to win the next two sets 6-3, 6-2.
Da Silveira continued the Gauchos’ fighting spirit and played an extremely tough first set against her opponent, junior Terri Fleming. Fleming was able to win the first set 7-6 and Da Silveira was unable to come back as she lost the second set 6-2. Like the previous battle between UCLA and UCSB, the meet finished in a 4-0 Bruin victory with three singles matches left unfinished.
The Gauchos’ loss does not come from a lack of effort or will to win. The team was simply unable to come out on top after pushing the matches to the brink. The loss of several close matches came one after another, and UCLA was successfully able to prevent the Gauchos from establishing a rhythm and attempting a comeback.
Key Gauchos on the team such as Dubavets, Stojic and Atanasson were unable to step up and, despite the valiant effort, do have to feel disappointed with exiting the tournament so early.
The UCSB women’s tennis team’s season ends with an overall record of 17-10; a perfect April and 10-game winning streak helped the team finish with the second seed in the Big West Conference.
The Gauchos went on to win the Big West Championship, their second consecutive title and reached the first round of the NCAA tournament. The end of the Gauchos’ season brings the graduation of seniors Baker, Jaimee Gilbertson oxford, and Stojic. However, the Gauchos will be able to retain Dubavets, Atanasson, and Da Silveira for one more year.