Despite splitting singles points with Long Beach State, the UCSB women’s tennis team lost Friday’s match against the 49ers 4-3. The Gauchos fell to 8-11 overall and finished out Big West play with a 3-5 record while the 49ers improved to 13-6 overall and 7-1 in conference play.
Long Beach earned the doubles point to give them the lead right off the bat, which became a sore point at the end of the match. Long Beach’s #1 team of junior Nicole Bouffler and freshman Sandra Rocha defeated Santa Barbara’s #1 sophomore Marielle Gruenig and senior Jen Kuhle 8-4. The Beach also took the #2 doubles match as senior Kelly Chan and sophomore Alanah Carroll beat Gaucho sophomores Andrea Pintar and Leslie Damion 8-2. In a close pairing, Santa Barbara’s #3 doubles team of freshman Kristen Wilson and senior Chelsea Dillon defeated sophomores Emmanuelle Tabatruong and Krystina Katayama 9-8.
After doubles, the teams faced off for grueling singles play. #1 Bouffler defeated Gruenig 6-2 and 6-4. Pintar dominated on the court and earned the win over Chan 6-3 and 6-1 in the #2 spot. Pintar noticed her caliber of play in the singles.
“It was one of my better matches,” Pintar said.
It was a battle to the end of three rounds for the #3 players before The Beach’s Carroll defeated UCSB sophomore Mio Fukushima 2-6, 6-2, and 6-2 with all the players watching as it was the last match to end and the only one to go to three rounds. In #4 play, Tabatruong earned the win for Long Beach over Kuhle 6-0, 6-3. For the Gauchos, #5 player Damion beat Rocha 6-3 and 7-5 while #6 Wilson defeated freshman Katayama 6-3 and 6-2.
The outcome of the weekend was decided by the #3 match between Fukushima and Carroll.
“We came to inch away from beating them. It really came down to the last match,” Pintar said.
The Gauchos will be practicing their doubles play this weekend as the look to improve in the last three matches of the season.
“We need to play better doubles; it’s killing us,” UCSB Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said. “It has been our Achilles’ heel all season. After losing the doubles points it’s hard to come back.”
Although the Gauchos lost the match, it showed that they have the ability to take on the highest teams.
“It’s disappointing. We definitely wanted to win. But still it’s very encouraging because they are one of the best teams in the Big West,” Kirkwood said.
Santa Barbara hosts UC Davis on Friday at home before traveling to Los Angeles to take on Loyola Marymount on Saturday. The Gauchos will host Northern Arizona for the last match of the season before heading off into championship play.