UCSB tennis fans looking for some excitement need look no further than this weekend, when the women’s tennis team hosts Riverside at 1:30 p.m. on Friday in its season-opener before taking on #73 Santa Clara on Sunday at 11 a.m.
Both matches will be played on the tennis courts at Rob Gym. Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said he is excited to see the season get underway.
“We’re playing Riverside, a Big West opponent, first, so we’re starting with something that counts,” Kirkwood said. “I feel really good about this team: we’re deep [and] good at every position. We’ve been working really hard.”
Junior Marielle Gruenig returns at the #1 spot for a second year and Kirkwood said he thinks she has the potential to improve on her respectable 11-13 record as a sophomore last year, when the Gauchos also went 11-13.
“Last year Marielle felt a lot of pressure. Last year it felt like sometimes the team’s success hinged on her individual success,” Kirkwood said. “But we’re much stronger at the 2-6 spots this year, which takes a lot of the pressure off her.”
The Gauchos’ depth will be bolstered by the arrival of junior Chelsea Glynn, who transferred this year from the University of Iowa. Playing Glynn at the #2 spot will allow Kirkwood to move Second Team All-Big West junior Andrea Pintar to the #3 position, where he said he expects her to be able to win many games.
Charlotte Scatliffe, a freshman who lost only two matches during her high school career, should play #4, with junior Leslie Damion, undefeated in her last five matches, playing at #5. Last year’s #3 starter, junior Mio Fukushima, will begin the year in the #6 spot.
“Compared to the last five years, it’s 100 percent stronger, like the difference between night and day,” Kirkwood said.
Anytime a team can move a successful player down a spot where they will usually see weaker competition, the team gives itself a chance to win more games, provided the newcomers do as well as last year’s players. Kirkwood said he believes Glynn and Scatliffe will be ready to make huge contributions immediately.
“Chelsea Glynn is really tenacious on the courts, a huge competitor,” Kirkwood said. “And Charlotte, our new freshman, went All-League every year in high school, so I think she’ll do really well.”