While most UCSB students enjoyed Friday as a relaxing start to an appreciated three-day weekend, an anxious Kayte Christensen went fishing for a summer job: a spot on the roster of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.

Christensen, a UCSB senior basketball player and the 2002 Big West Player of the Year, made the final cut for the coveted 11-woman opening-day roster. Christensen was drafted in the second round and No. 40 overall in last month’s WNBA draft but had to complete the rigorous workouts, camps and pre-season before actually making the squad.

“It’s such a relief to have made the team,” Christensen said. “The longer training camp goes, the worse it gets because the anticipation grows.”

Christensen played considerable minutes in the pre-season. In four games, the 6’3″ forward averaged 5.5 points and 5.25 rebounds per game as a reserve in just under 19 minutes per contest. Christensen led the team in rebounding twice, including at a game on May 9 when she racked up 11 boards in the Mercury’s 62-59 loss to the Sol.

“I know exactly what Coach [Cynthia] Cooper was looking for so I just went out there and hustled and rebounded,” Christensen said. “I felt confident about making the team.”

Christensen will now compete for playing time for Phoenix, which houses eight forwards. But in an online poll, Christensen was rated the “Mercury newcomer that stood out the most in pre-season action.” Possibly the first post off the bench, Christensen knows that the WNBA is much different than college basketball.

“It’s not like in college where coaches try to help you through everything,” Christensen said. “I like how the guards at this level run the floor and are willing to take some chances. I will adjust as time goes on and learn as much as I can.”

While Christensen is enjoying the professional lifestyle of the WNBA, she’s also a full-time student and aims to graduate on June 16 at UCSB, where she has been asked to give a commencement speech.

“I’m so tired by the end of a day of practice but I have to come back and study just like normal students,” Christensen said. “I don’t know another rookie in the league currently taking classes. When you go on a road trip though, you are adults and professionals but there is more freedom. I really enjoy it.”