UCSB sophomore Andrea Pintar is the only Gaucho women’s tennis player to qualify for main draw competition coming into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association women’s Western Championship at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego, Oct 24-27.

Seven total teams, six singles and three doubles, will represent Santa Barbara and face some of the top women’s tennis programs in the west.

“This is the biggest tournament we will go to because this is the whole west region,” Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said. “We’ll be in with all the top schools.”

Almost 200 players will compete for 64 main draw spots, representing programs from top schools such as Pepperdine, San Diego State and Pac-10 teams, among others. Most players must qualify for spots in tomorrow’s main draw competition by acing today’s qualifying round.

“The main draw is dominated by the Pac-10,” Kirkwood said. “It’s tough to win a match in the main draw.”

Pintar defeated five opponents, including sophomore doubles partner Marielle Gruenig, to advance to the final round of the 2003 Cal State Fullerton Fall Intercollegiate tournament Oct. 9-12. Seventh-seeded Pepperdine junior Karin Schlapbach defeated Pintar, 6-1, 6-1, in the finals.

“If anyone from our team would get straight into the main draw [of the ITA West Regionals] it would be her,” Kirkwood said.

Kirkwood expects three to four Gauchos to get into the main draw. The team is young, comprised of five sophomores and two seniors. However, all seven members have prior experience on the court as UCSB players. Last season, Santa Barbara was ranked 71st nationally and finished 16-8.

“They came such a long way last year,” Kirkwood said.

The ITA women’s Western Championship will serve as an opportunity for players to become ranked individually and will help Kirkwood establish a lineup for the rest of the year.

Pintar and Gruenig will battle for the #1 and #2 spots throughout the season, having played at the #3 and #2 positions, respectively, last year. Sophomore Mio Fukushima played #3 at the University of Hawaii last year and is expected to do well in today’s qualifiers. Kirkwood anticipates sophomores Leslie Damion and Amy Vhynis and senior Jen Kuhle will also turn out solid performances.

“We have a great chance for a lot of them to qualify,” Kirkwood said.