More intense than the Heat-Knicks rivalry of the NBA, and more heated than the Giants-Dodgers match up in MLB, is Santa Barbara vs. Big West enemy, Cal Poly.

The UCSB women’s tennis team will be pitted against the Mustangs – the Gauchos’ chief central coast nemesis – at home this Saturday at 11:00 a.m.

This match will also mark the final home matches for Gaucho seniors Gaby Andrade and Shannon Wilkins, who would love nothing more than to go out with a dominant performance against the Mustang team.

“It will be a really competitive match because our schools just really don’t like each other,” Andrade said.

Two seasons ago in a match between these two schools at Santa Barbara, a Mustang player was involved in a yelling duel against some Gaucho fans. The following year, the match was in San Luis Obispo, where a rowdy Cal Poly crowd gathered to shout profanities at the UCSB tennis players.

“The fans there were out of control,” junior Cindy Ammann said. “Some of the players are rude, too. They play mind games with you and they get in your face if a ball gets past you. They also aim for your head in doubles matches.”

Despite the hostilities, UCSB walked away with a close road victory last year and aim to keep the streak alive in this match – which has little to do with standings and much to do with pride.

“There is always a lot of confrontation in our matches against [Cal Poly],” Wilkins said. “Sometimes the extracurricular incidents can get annoying when you are just trying to play your game, but I think that everyone’s hearts will be in it a little more because it is our last home match and it is against Cal Poly.”

The Mustangs (11-5 overall) are coming off a weekend where they pulled off a 7-0 sweep against San Jose State. The team is led by senior Danielle Brandlin, who is 17-13 in singles play this season, playing in the #1 singles and doubles positions.

“They are a pretty good team,” Ammann said. “They are all comparable in skill level. There is not much of a difference between their #1 player and #6 players.”

After beginning the season with an eight-game losing streak, Santa Barbara has hit cruise control on their recent high-octane drive, where they have won seven of their last eight matches. The Gauchos are peaking at the right time, playing their best tennis just before the Big West Tournament, which will be held at Ojai from April 25 to 28.

“This match will come down to whoever wants it more,” Ammann said. “We can’t come in and play scared. We just got to go for it.”

As Andrade and Wilkins’ collegiate tennis careers come to a close, they will definitely look to go out with a bang in their last game on their home court.

“My teammates are my friends,” Andrade said. “Me and Shannon came in as freshmen together and we have gone through so much as a team. Tennis has been such a big part of my life for so long, it will be really sad to see it end. It’s the girls that I will really miss the most.”

Wilkins shares similar reflections, but also looks forward to the extra time she will have without the commitment of playing a Division 1 sport.

“It definitely went by really fast,” Wilkins said. “I love the competition and the team atmosphere, and I’m really glad I stayed with it for four years. At the same time though, it will be nice to do other things.”