The UCSB women’s tennis team needs a few aces to start the season on the right foot.
After last year’s 16-8 overall record and 5-3 Big West record, the Gauchos are trying to show the conference what they are all about, starting with the Cal Poly Tournament this weekend in San Luis Obispo.
This tournament will give the Gauchos an idea of what to expect during the regular season with teams like Saint Mary’s, Pepperdine and Northridge all competing this weekend.
The Cal Poly Tournament will help UCSB Head Coach Pete Kirkwood figure out a plan to realign his doubles teams so they can succeed throughout the season.
“Our only concern right now is that we haven’t done really well in doubles this preseason. We have only won three or four doubles matches,” Coach Kirkwood said. “At this Cal Poly tournament, I’m going to try different doubles teams to see if I can come up with a formula that will work for the regular season.”
After losing the 2003 Big West Player of the Year in Uzma Khan, Kirkwood said he still feels his team can be a conference powerhouse. The roster this season consists of only two seniors and one junior, making the team extremely young, yet talented.
“We should really have no real soft spots in our lineup. We should be solid at every spot – one through six,” Kirkwood said.
Kirkwood used a singles lineup Friday at the ITA West Regional Championship in San Diego consisting of senior Jen Kuhle and sophomores Andrea Pintar, Amy Vyhnis, Marielle Gruenig and Mio Fukushima. Sophomore Leslie Damion and senior Chelsea Dillon played doubles for Santa Barbara.
The Cal Poly Tournament will be a major test to see what the team is like, and how things will be handled throughout the season.
“I am pretty optimistic about the upcoming season,” Dillon said. “We haven’t played Cal Poly yet, which is biggest rival in the Big West, and for me the biggest thing is to see how we stand and compare up against them, which will show us how we will do in the future.”
Kirkwood expects to use a similar group of women in Cal Poly Tournament, which starts this Friday and continues through Sunday.