The UCSB women’s tennis team dropped its first conference match to #72 Irvine on the road on Sunday.

The Gauchos started off their 2003 campaign with hot rackets by winning five of their seven matches, including a 6-1 victory over Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 7 in their Big West opener. But Santa Barbara stumbled against the Anteaters, avoiding the embarrassment of a shutout by winning just one of seven points.

Santa Barbara drops to 6-2 overall and evens its Big West record at 1-1.

Senior #1 singles player Uzma Khan, ranked #78 in the country, posted the lone win against UCI. Khan, who is a perfect 9-0 this season, cruised to victory over Irvine junior #1 singles Jenny Bowman by a score of 6-1, 6-3.

Bowman would get revenge though. In #1 doubles, the team of Khan and freshman phenom Marielle Gruenig dropped the point to Bowman and junior Tiffany Chang in a close 9-7 battle.

Gruenig, who is in her first quarter at UCSB after coming over from Switzerland, has been a pleasant surprise for UCSB Head Coach Pete Kirkwood so far in 2003. In #2 singles, Gruenig won the first set 6-2 against Chang but surrendered the next two sets to lose the match 6-2, 2-6, 3-6.

The Gauchos return home to host Cal Poly on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at the RecCen courts. Santa Barbara is undefeated at home this season and another win this week would move the squad over the .500 mark in Big West competition. In three wins at home this year, UCSB outscored its opponents 20-1 over the three matches. After shutting out Gonzaga and San Jos