It’s that time of year to put up, or, to be polite, close your mouth.
With only six matches remaining before the Big West Tournament, the UCSB women’s tennis team (9-5 overall, 1-2 in the Big West) will play four conference foes in eight days, starting with Northridge on Tuesday.
“They’re extremely dangerous,” Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said. “I feel though, that if we come out and play well, we will beat them.”
The conference games are critical because UCSB has already been eliminated from an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. The only way for the Gauchos to earn a spot in the Big Dance is by winning the Big West Tournament. Their performance in the next four games will determine the Gauchos’ seeding in the tournament.
“If we go 4-0, we will be the #2 seed,” Kirkwood said. “Whereas if we lose a game or two we could be as low as a #6 or a #7.”
Placing out of the top six would require UCSB to play an extra game in the tournament, which the team wants to avoid.
“We consider tomorrow a must-win game,” Kirkwood said.
However the rest of the team plays, the Gauchos know they will get excellent play from the #1 spot. Junior Marielle Gruenig has been superb this year in #1 singles, and is ranked #87 in the nation with a 13-1 record. The Gauchos have also been very strong at doubles play over their last few games. Wins in the 2-6 spots will be critical, and Kirkwood thinks his team will be ready.
“In our last game (a 4-3 loss to Loyola Marymount), we had three match points, and we were just unable to close it out,” Kirkwood said. “We lost two matches where our girls won the first sets 6-1 and 6-0. We have a lot at stake this week, no doubt about it. We have to be physically tough and mentally prepared.”