Upsets are pretty common these days in college athletics, but the favorites had the upper hand this weekend.
The UCSB women’s tennis team competed in the Big West Tournament at Ojai where it defeated 10th-seeded Riverside 5-2 on Thursday before falling to second-seeded Long Beach State 4-1 on Friday.
While the Gauchos were obviously hoping for a better outcome, they can’t be too disappointed by their finish, considering that No. 1 seed Irvine, third-seed Cal State Northridge and fourth-seed Idaho all won their second-round matches as well.
It may not be adequate consolation for the Gauchos, but the 49ers plowed their way through the Big West, going on to defeat the Matadors on Saturday and Irvine on Sunday to win the tournament. The Niners will receive an automatic NCAA berth.
Senior Cindy Ammann led the Gauchos throughout the weekend. Ammann won both of her matches, 6-4, 6-0 and 6-4, 6-3. She was the only Gaucho to win a match against Long Beach. Junior sensation Uzma Khan couldn’t pull through, however, falling to Anastasia Dvornikova of LBSU in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3.
Ammann and Khan have led the Gauchos all season long and each had only three losses on their stat sheets coming into the tournament. But the senior shined brightest for the Gauchos in her final matches in blue and gold. Unfortunately, her teammates couldn’t help her out.
Thursday’s match against Riverside went exactly the way UCSB Head Coach Pete Kirkwood wanted. Khan and Ammann both won their matches and the team clinched the doubles point. The Gauchos received the lift they needed from Michelle Stewart and Shiho Fukushima, who won their matches at the number four and five singles spots.
It was exactly the game plan Kirkwood had outlined before the match, with the focus on winning the doubles point and a third singles match after the top two slots. Certainly after the Gauchos had completed their second 5-2 victory over Riverside in as many weeks they had to feel that game plan was working.
Going into Friday’s match against LBSU, the Gauchos enjoyed a three-match winning streak. However, they had struggled against Long Beach State earlier in the season, dropping their match 5-2. Those two points were from Ammann and Khan, two points the team had become accustomed to counting on.
The Gauchos had the tables turned on them, however. Other than Amman’s victory, UCSB was unable to win a match. That spelled certain doom for the Gauchos and a tough ending to a tough season.