The UCSB women’s tennis team was down but not out Friday after losing their first match of the Big West Championships 4-2 in Indian Wells, Calif.
After the long match against Long Beach State on Friday, the Gauchos lost Saturday to Idaho 4-1 but then took their last match against Riverside 4-3 to place seventh.
Santa Barbara knew it was going to be a battle against Long Beach, and it most certainly was as the teams battled it out in the 100-degree heat.
“It was an incredibly tough match that went four and a half hours,” UCSB Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said.
The #1 doubles team of sophomore Marielle Gruenig and senior Jen Kuhle lost their match 8-0 as did the #3 team of senior Chelsea Dillon and sophomore Mio Fukushima 8-3 to give the 49ers the doubles point. The only UCSB singles players to win their matches were #2 singles sophomore Andrea Pintar and #5 sophomore Leslie Damion. Three of the six singles matches went to three sets including the #1 battle which Nicole Bouffler of Long Beach took over Gruenig 6-3, 4-6 and 6-3 and the #2 and #5 matches which Pintar and Damion took 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 and then 4-6, 7-6, 6-3, respectively.
“We put everything we had into the LBSU match and it was so close, it went down to the wire,” Kirkwood said. “[We] ended up giving them the toughest match of the series.”
The 49ers played in the championship match yesterday while the Gauchos played for fifth place early Saturday morning against Idaho. Santa Barbara’s only point in the match came from #2 singles player Pintar.
“We were really slapped for the consolation matches; we weren’t that excited to be playing it,” Kirkwood said.
The Gauchos set their sights on closing out with a win over Riverside after losing to them 4-3 in their second match of the season. This time all three UCSB doubles teams won and took their first doubles point of the weekend. They went on to take the #4, #5 and #6 singles matches, earning the win 4-3 and seventh place. Damion had a repeat of her Big West performance last year, winning all of her matches.
“We really wanted to finish the season out avenging the match to UCR and we were able to do that,” Kirkwood said. “We played with good spirit and energy.”
The Gauchos finish their 2004 season with 11-13 overall record and will start preparing for next year soon.