Despite having a relatively young and inexperienced team with four new starting players this year, the #73 UCSB women’s tennis team won its season opener, beating Santa Clara University 6-1 at home.
Although the final score seems to indicate a complete domination of the Broncos, a few games were surprisingly close. Junior Charlotte Scatliffe dropped the first set of her singles match 6-4 to junior Lindsay McBride. However, Scatliffe was able to win the last two sets with relative ease at 6-2 and 6-3.
Also, Junior Marta Simic and Scatliffe narrowly won their doubles match in overtime by a score of 9-8 (8-6).
“My doubles match went into overtime, and I only had about 10 minutes before I had to play my singles match. I was mentally drained,” Scatliffe said. “After losing the first set, I thought [the match] could be slipping away so I had to get it together.”
The Gauchos also managed to win the other two doubles matches. Playing in the second spot, freshmen Carina Bjornstrom and Tova Hausman won 9-7 and junior Brittany Kausen and freshman Asagi Onaga won 8-5.
“[Scatliffe] really fought back in her match. Winning third sets is one of the goals we have set for ourselves this year and [Scatliffe] did a great job to win hers today,” Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said.
Simic won her match in two sets, although both needed to be played out to seven points. The final score was 7-6 and 7-5.
A large crowd came out to watch the team, which some of the players said made them more nervous than usual. But despite the pre-match jitters, Bjornstrom made her first start at the NCAA Division I level and won her match 6-4, 6-2.
“I was really nervous; it was my first game ever in college and there were a lot of people,” Bjornstrom said. “But I was very happy I won. I didn’t feel any pressure [as a freshman] because we’re a team and everyone’s really supportive.”
Scatliffe said that she is very impressed with how the team is performing and has lofty goals for the team this season, despite the inexperience on its roster.
“We have a chance to do really well. No one wanted to give up today,” Scatliffe said. “We are a very physically tough team.”
In addition to being one of the few upperclassmen on the team, Scatliffe is also team captain. Her experience and class standing alone were not enough to prevent her from feeling anxiety about the team’s season opener.
“At first I was nervous about being captain, because I’m a junior and most captains are seniors,” Scatliffe said. “But it’s easy being the leader on this team. [The girls] take things so well.”
Next up, the Gauchos will play divisional opponent Saint Mary’s College at home on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 11 a.m. The unranked Gaels won their first match 6-1 against Pacific.