After taking last weekend off, the UCSB women’s tennis team prepares to take on UC Riverside in a conference match tomorrow.

The Gauchos (3-4 overall, 1-1 in the Big West) will travel to Riverside for their second consecutive away match, coming directly after a narrow 4-3 loss to the University of San Francisco.

However, this road matchup carries implications that are considerably more substantial. As a conference opponent, a win over UC Riverside (5-4, 0-2 Big West) will keep Santa Barbara in the hunt for a Big West title.

“[This game] is huge because we still have a shot at a #2 seed in the Big West Conference,” Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said. “We have to win the rest of the conference.”

Santa Barbara has already lost to one conference rival this season, #28 UC Irvine (13-2, 5-0 Big West). The only conference win for UCSB came at the expense of Cal State Fullerton (0-13, 0-5 Big West) – a team that remains winless on the year.

Head Coach Pete Kirkwood feels that the break in his team’s competitive play will be beneficial.

“I think it will be a positive thing; we’ve been beat up,” Kirkwood said. “This was a chance to get healthy.”

The Gauchos have been afflicted by injuries to key players this year, including junior Marta Simic and freshman Tova Hausman. Hausman did not play in the last match against San Francisco on Feb. 25 and is still not expected to play in the Riverside match.

Despite the fact that the Gauchos lost their first road match, the team remains positive about its chances in the Riverside match. Kirkwood cites the previous loss as a learning experience for his young squad.

“I think we’re going to be ready for this one,” Kirkwood said. “Our confidence has been restored. Our chances of wining are very good if we play well.”

Unfortunately for Riverside, history on is not on their side. The Highlanders have lost the last 5 matches against Santa Barbara by a combined score of 28-7. Also, this season, all but one of Riverside’s losses have come at the hands of ranked opponents: #39 San Diego State, #34 University of Nevada at Las Vegas and #27 Long Beach State.