Despite turning in possibly its best doubles performance this season, the UCSB women’s tennis team could not pull out the overall victory against conference-rival #49 Long Beach State. Even in the close 4-3loss, the Gauchos (7-11 overall, 2-3 in the Big West) did what most Big West opponents could not by winning the doubles point against the heavily favored 49ers (12-5, 5-0).

“We’re not discouraged at 4-3 with Long Beach,” Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said. “They beat Irvine 6-1, Northridge 6-1, Fullerton 7-0, basically mowing through the conference. We feel pretty good about how we played today.”

UCSB began the afternoon strong as seniors Marta Simic and Charlotte Scatliffe pulled out an impressive top-seeded doubles victory over the nation’s #31 doubles team in junior Hannah Grady and senior Stephanie Bengson 8-6. Before the seniors sealed the doubles point, however, sophomore Tova Hausman and senior Brittany Kausen rallied from a 2-5 deficit to beat out freshmen Debora Armstrong and Lisa Sutton 8-6 in third-ranked doubles. UCSB suffered its only doubles loss in the two-spot, where sophomore Asagi Onaga and freshman Jill Damion could not hold off freshman Stephanie Jeanes and junior Jessica Weeks in an 8-3 loss.

Santa Barbara could not translate its doubles momentum into singles victories, as Long Beach quickly took the four matches it needed to secure the overall victory. Grady, the two-time defending Big West Player of the Year, dominated Simic 6-0, 6-3 in top-seeded single, while Damion was similarly turned away by Bengson in a 6-2, 6-1 shellacking at the two-spot. Onaga secured her first victory in the three-spot 6-4, 7-5 over Armstrong, while Scatliffe continued to struggle, despite the demotion to four-seeded singles in another close 6-2, 7-6 loss at the hands of Jeanes.

“Asagi [Onaga] has been winning lately, and Charlotte [Scatliffe] has been on a losing streak,” Kirkwood said. “I thought maybe we move her down, so she could pick up a few wins, get her confidence back.”

Hausman provided the Gauchos’ only other singles win in a fifth-ranked singles after a grueling 6-3, 6-4 victory over junior Jessica Weeks, while Kausen struggled against Sutton in her 6-2, 6-3 sixth-spot loss. Hausman leads the squad in singles wins, posting a 10-7 record on the year.

Santa Barbara heads to Loyola Marymount (8-11) this Saturday in a match that will pit Simic against senior Pavla Mesterova, the #65 singles player in the nation. UCSB returns home on Sunday to play conference opponent UC Riverside (7-6, 0-3), a team that hasn’t played since mid-March.

“We have to maintain our level of play,” Kirkwood said. “That’s going to be the key. We played really well today, didn’t get the reward with the victory, but if we play as well as we did today, we’ll win our last four matches. We can’t take a step back now. We’re too close to the end of the year to take a step back.”