A three-hour marathon match in the top-ranked singles slot ended in heartbreak for senior Marta Simic and the UCSB women’s tennis team as the squad dropped their first match at home 4-3 to Georgia State. Simic’s match, which went into a tie break after she and Panther junior Dariana Kozmina each took a set, ended 5-7, 6-1, 9-6 in Kozmina’s favor. The intense match proved to be the deciding factor in the Santa Barbara loss.
“They’re a good team, and we’re just as good,” Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said. “We didn’t get the win, but when you’re match point away from a win, you can’t be disappointed. I think if we played them tomorrow or the next day after some recovery, it would have made a big difference. They fought hard, they wanted it, so they got it.”
UCSB (4-5 overall) falls under .500 after a brutal stretch of four matches in five days, two of them against ranked opponents. The Gauchos came out slightly fatigued in doubles, with Simic and her fellow senior partner Charlotte Scatliffe missing easy shots in their third consecutive loss in top-ranked doubles. Junior Martina Nitkova and freshman Katerina Gresova took advantage of the senior’s sloppy play and handed them an 8-2 defeat.
However, the Panthers (5-8) would not win another doubles match, as Santa Barbara’s freshman Jill Damion and sophomore Asagi Onaga out-played Kozmina and junior Kiara Powell in an 8-4 two-slot Gaucho victory while sophomore Bryanna Ojeda and senior Juliette Mutzke clinched the doubles point for UCSB in a 8-6 three-slot win over senior Mateja Podgorsek and senior Rachel Malina. It was the first doubles start for both Ojeda and Mutzke, who filled in for a fatigued sophomore Tova Hausman and resting senior Britanny Kausen.
“[Hausman] had a lot of matches over the road trip,” Kirkwood said. “She had two matches in a row that came down to a third set, her doubles matches went into tie-breakers and she’s nursing a sore arm.”
Apart from the deciding top-ranked singles match, UCSB did well in the bottom portion of the singles rotation. Damion, who appeared hampered by a sore wrist, lost 6-1, 6-1 in the second spot to Nitkova, and Scatliffe’s inspired second set comeback was stymied by Malina, 6-2, 7-5. Onaga blew away Gresova, 6-4, 6-4, with a consistently accurate backhand, while Kausen got off the bench to deliver a critical 6-1, 6-3 win over senior Kiera Strickland in the sixth spot. Ojeda made her season debut at singles as well in Hausman’s fifth spot, but suffered a hard-fought 6-3, 7-5 defeat at the hands of Powell.
“We’re not disappointed about this at all,” Kirkwood said. “The fact that we could be this competitive in a match like this after playing three tough matches in Arizona, you can’t complain.”