The UCSB women’s tennis team had its five-game winning streak snapped Sunday, as it dropped a close 4-3 contest to Irvine.
After losing two of the three doubles matches, which gave Irvine the one-point advantage going into singles play, the Gauchos put on strong solo performances to take the match down to the wire.
UCSB fought hard and prevailed in three of the six singles matches. Freshman Anne Marie Lenz pulled off a 6-2, 7-5 victory over Natalie Exon, while Santa Barbara sophomore Uzma Khan picked up the W in three sets over Nickole Kabe. Gaucho senior Gaby Andrade also came away with a victory, winning in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 over Mindy Gondrez. The final match then went to Irvine, as UCSB freshman Vanessa Everly lost 6-2, 3-6, 3-6 to Antonella Castro.
“It was a really close match,” Andrade said. “It came down to the last match, which extended the full three sets. We were all disappointed with the loss.”
Though Santa Barbara was able to pull away with wins in half of the singles matches, it was unable to secure the win after losing the initial doubles point. In the case against Irvine, this point proved to be the deciding factor.
“The doubles point is really important,” junior Shiho Fukushima said. “It can be the game difference.”
UCSB is trying to use the loss to UCI as a learning experience, and the Gauchos are now looking forward to the matches they have ahead of them. Santa Barbara will square off against Cal State Fullerton today at 2 p.m., before facing Loyola Marymount on April 19. Then comes a date with Cal Poly on April 21.
“Though it was disappointing, we have to let this one go,” Andrade said of the loss to Irvine. “We have two really hard matches remaining. Loyola Marymount will be a tough game. And then we have Cal Poly, which is our big rival. There is a heated history between the two teams.”
UCSB is also looking forward to the Big West Tournament, which is looming just around the corner. Santa Barbara feels good about its chances in the tournament, as the unity among the Gauchos is presently at its strongest after spending Spring Break together.
“We all got to know each other really well [over break],” Lenz said. “We all have a lot of potential, and we are all friends. Even after five days on the road together we still wanted to be with each other. I feel really good about being a member of this team.”