The UCSB women’s tennis team closed out the fall season with some encouraging performances in the Cal Poly Tournament this weekend.
Having played in their most important tournament, the ITA Western Regional Championship, last weekend, the Gauchos used the Cal Poly Tournament as an opportunity to end their fall season on a high note. For the most part, they did just that, with heartening performances from juniors Leslie Damion and Mio Fukushima.
“Our goal for the weekend was to go up there and work on playing aggressive tennis,” Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said. “There was not a lot on the line for us in this tournament; we just wanted to play with no fear and play with confidence.”
UCSB found itself short-handed, playing without star freshman Charlotte Scatliffe, who was battling injury, as well as junior Andrea Pintar, who is taking part in a study abroad program. Kirkwood had to move Damion from the #5 spot up to the #3 spot, and she delivered by winning two matches over the weekend in straight sets. Damion rallied from a first set deficit to win Friday’s match against Cal Poly 7-5, 6-2, then disposed of her Saint Mary’s opponent 6-4, 6-4 on Sunday.
“[Damion] is probably our most improved player this fall,” Kirkwood said. “She did exactly what we were looking for this weekend; she really came through for us.”
Another promising sign for UCSB was the play of Fukushima, who moved up to the #4 spot in the lineup. Fukushima came back from a tough loss to Cal Poly on Friday to dominate her match against Saint Mary’s 6-2, 6-2 on Sunday. Freshman Brittany Kausen was also required to move up in the lineup, going from the #9 spot to the #6. Kausen dominated her Saint Mary’s opponent 6-4, 6-0.
“I think [this weekend] will really be a springboard for Mio. I really think this will send her off on a positive note,” Kirkwood said. “This really solidifies my belief that we’re a deep team.”
UCSB does not resume play until February, but the Gauchos are enthusiastic about the upcoming spring season.
“One thing we learned is how tough our league is going to be,” Kirkwood said. “Most of the teams, including us, are much improved from last year and I think that is going to really motivate us.”