The #60 UCSB women’s tennis team welcomed #28 Long Beach State Saturday, as the match gave them a chance to knock the two-time defending champions out of the #1 seed in the Big West. The 49ers proved to be too strong, however, defeating the Gauchos 6-1 on Senior Day.
After honoring the six departing seniors, the Gauchos (13-8 overall, 6-2 in the Big West) kicked off the match on the right foot, winning two out of three of the doubles matches. The #1 doubles tandem of sophomore Charlotte Scatliffe and senior Andrea Pintar sparked the Santa Barbara doubles point, defeating the Long Beach duo of freshman Katy Williams and junior Sandra Rocha with a score of 8-4.
“Our #1 doubles are awesome,” Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said. “For the past few matches, they just seemed to click and gain confidence with each other. They play well with each other”
Seniors Marielle Gruenig and Chelsea Glynn were the only doubles team to lose their match, in the #2 spot, as Long Beach freshmen Hannah Grady and Jessica Weeks took an 8-6 win.
In #3 doubles, seniors Leslie Damion and Mio Fukushima in #1 singles won their final home doubles match, giving the Gauchos the doubles point and a 1-0 advantage heading into singles play.
“Our doubles have come full circle,” Kirkwood said. “They used to hurt us, but now we seem to be playing probably the best doubles in the Big West. You saw in the [UC Irvine] match, sweeping the doubles point, and taking two out of three doubles against Long Beach. The doubles are just really great.”
Despite its success in doubles, UCSB hit a wall in singles against the 49ers. Long Beach won all six singles matches, and it held the Gauchos to just two sets in five of the six matches. Pintar was the only Santa Barbara singles player to take her opponent to three sets, eventually losing to Stephanie Bengson in #3 singles 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
“I was really pleased with the effort,” Kirkwood said. “We played good tennis. Long Beach was just a little bit better. If we face Long Beach again, we may have a chance. Saturday’s match didn’t hurt our confidence. Winning the doubles point and playing good singles helped our confidence.”
With the win, Long Beach finished the Big West regular season undefeated in conference action and secured the #1 seed heading into the Big West Tournament. The Gauchos are still waiting to find out what seed they will be handed, to be decided later this week.
“The first round is the toughest,” Kirkwood said. “All year long, it was a 4-3 battle with everyone. We all beat each other up 4-3. That shows the parity of the Big West. There is an advantage being the #1 seed, but once you get to Saturday, it doesn’t matter what seed you are.”
The Gauchos kick off the Big West Tournament Thursday in Indian Wells, Calif.