The 68th-ranked UCSB women’s tennis team welcomed back #1 singles player and team leader senior Marielle Gruenig and defeated UC Riverside 6-1 Sunday before losing to Cal Poly 4-3 Monday.
In the Gauchos’ home opener Sunday, UC Riverside rolled into town for a Big West Conference match. After sweeping the doubles point, with the #1 doubles team of sophomore Charlotte Scatliffe and senior Andrea Pintar leading the way with an 8-3 win over Highlanders senior Casey Cross and freshman Erynne Oki, the Gauchos then defeated Riverside with wins in five out of the six singles matches.
In Gruenig’s first match after missing three weeks of play, she teamed up with senior Chelsea Glynn at #2 doubles and defeated Riverside sophomore H.R. Espiritu and freshman Yasmen Sakhakorn, 8-5. Gruenig also defeated Cross in #1 singles, 6-2, 6-0.
“[Marielle] is definitely a pace setter,” UCSB Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said. “It’s good to have her back. She’s a team leader.”
In Gruenig’s absence, senior Amy Vyhnis filled the opening in the doubles lineup. Vyhnis won all of her matches while Gruenig was out.
“Amy really stepped in,” Kirkwood said. “She’s a competitor who knows what it takes to win.”
The lone loss the Gauchos suffered against Riverside came at the hands of Oki in #3 singles, who defeated Pintar 6-3, 6-3. UCSB, however, had already sealed the 6-1 victory.
Monday, the Gauchos traveled to San Luis Obispo to face Cal Poly and lost 4-3 in a match that lasted seven hours, thanks to rain delays and electrical malfunctions.
After losing the doubles point, UCSB was in the middle of the singles matches when a thunderhead broke and rain began to fall. After the rains stopped and the courts were wiped, the Gauchos were down 3-1 with Scatliffe, Gruenig and senior Leslie Damion left to play when the lights turned off.
After another half-hour delay, Scatliffe, who was up 3-0 when the lights turned off, went up 4-0 in the third set, but then fell to Cal Poly senior Sheila Lewis 1-6, 2-6, 6-7.
“I’m really proud of Charlotte,” Kirkwood said. “It was a tough environment with a tough opponent. Lewis just started to play better, and the crowd was behind her. However, Charlotte didn’t let the crowd get to her. She was out there battling for us.”
The loss to Cal Poly broke UCSB’s four-match winning streak and handed it its first loss in Big West play.
“It was a tough loss,” Kirkwood said. “But this team has a history of responding from tough losses in a positive way.”
Next up for the Gauchos is the UNLV tournament this weekend in Las Vegas, Nev. UCSB is set to face Oklahoma State on Friday at 2 p.m. The UNLV Rebels have the #1 seed in the tournament, while Fresno State, who defeated the Gauchos 7-0 early in the season, is seeded second.
“It’s a good tournament with good competition,” Kirkwood said. “After suffering a stinging loss, the team just wants to move on and play another match.”