The UCSB women’s tennis team packed up its rackets and headed down to Cal State Northridge in search of its first win of the season.
Unfortunately, the Gauchos’ efforts came up a bit short as they dropped a close 4-3 decision Saturday to the Matadors for their fourth consecutive loss.
Despite the early setbacks, the team continues to remain positive about its season.
"It’s only the beginning of the season, and we have been playing some really tough schools," senior captain Gaby Andrade said. "We’ve been competing pretty hard, and playing well. Our team has a lot of freshmen, so it will take time for them to get used to playing at this level."
The Gauchos knew they had their work cut out for them in their match against CSUN after the Matadors notched a 4-3 win over Big West power Irvine.
"We split the singles matches and were pretty happy about the way we played," junior Cindy Ammann said. "They beat Irvine, so we knew it was going to be a tough match."
Ammann’s teammates agreed with her, acknowledging that the matches could have gone either way.
"All the matches seemed pretty close, and our team really battled the entire way through," freshman Vanessa Everly said.
This year, the NCAA women’s tennis has implemented a change in the game format so that teams play the doubles matches before they go on to play the singles match. In addition, the team that wins two out of the three doubles games takes the point. Before this new rule change, each match counted for a point in itself.
"This is a little different for us," UCSB Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said. "Some people are slow starters, so for them it is tough to play doubles first since it goes by so fast. It is a little disappointing that we have not won a doubles match yet, but we definitely have the talent and are capable of doing it."
The Gauchos have faced much adversity to start the season, beginning with the wrist injury of their #1 singles player, Uzma Khan. She recently underwent surgery and hopes to be back in time for the Big West home opener.
"We are playing really well considering that we are short-handed," Kirkwood said. "Uzma Khan has yet to see action this year. Once she returns, everyone will shift down a spot."
In addition to a short bench, the Gauchos also had to endure a long, rough road trip to Oregon where they played at Portland University and University of Oregon in unfamiliar conditions, including competing on an indoor surface.
"It has been a tough start for our team because the trip to Oregon was really far," Ammann said. "We got there late and didn’t have time to practice on their indoor courts. We didn’t get a chance to prepare for the indoor game, which is a different, quicker game."
The Gauchos travel to Long Beach State this Saturday in yet another search for their first victory.
"Long Beach has a good team this year, so it will be another tough one for us," Kirkwood said. "But we definitely have the ability to compete with them."