Even though individual talent dominates tennis, the collegiate game relies as much on a team concept to generate victories.
The UCSB women’s tennis team split in a pair of Big West road matches last weekend by dropping a tight 4-3 match at #71 Long Beach State before cruising to a 6-1 victory over Riverside at the RecCen Courts on Senior Day. The Gauchos (14-7) will play a nonconference makeup game against Loyola Marymount today at 2 p.m. at the RecCen Courts to conclude the regular season.
Santa Barbara came out firing against the 49ers on Saturday afternoon. Senior #1 singles and 2002 Big West All-Conference Team member Uzma Khan won her 20th consecutive match at the position against LBSU’s Alena Kovalchuk to remain undefeated in 2003.
Freshman Marielle Gruenig snagged a point at #2 singles 6-4, 6-3 over Laura Thomas while garnering the #1 doubles point with Khan. But UCSB couldn’t gain necessary help from the lower seeds to come out victorious, and the Gauchos dropped a close match to their conference rival.
“We have seven losses and all have been to teams in the top 75,” UCSB Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said. “We have the best player in the conference in Uzma Khan, and if we can get some help from some of the other positions we will be right there.”
Sunday’s match against the Highlanders served as Senior Day for Khan, the Gauchos’ lone senior. The probable 2003 Big West Player of the Year scorched UCR’s Michelle Beyronneau 6-2, 6-2 to run her unbeaten streak at #1 singles to 21. Santa Barbara notched wins at the one through five singles positions and snagged the #1 and two doubles points to come away on top.
After UCSB hosts LMU this afternoon it will prep for the all-important Big West Tournament on April 24-27.
“The league is getting more balanced,” Kirkwood said. “With everyone shuffling for position, whoever gets hot at the end of the year usually has the best chance of winning the tournament.”