After an in-conference shellacking of UC Riverside, UCSB seniors Marta Simic, Charlotte Scatliffe, Brittany Kausen and Juliette Mutzke will take the home court one last time this afternoon when the Gauchos (8-12 overall, 3-3 Big West) take on Davis and Cal Poly.
Though the weekend has large postseason implications, in today’s competition the spotlight will shine not on future glory but on past successes. Of the four graduating seniors playing their final home game Satuday, Simic has been here the shortest after transferring from Broward Community College in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. two years ago. Since joining the team, the Serbian native has gone 14-19 in the top-ranked singles spot while going 22-16 alongside the veteran Scatliffe in top-ranked doubles.
“[Simic]’s the only player I ever recruited from a junior college in my 14 years here,” Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said. “She’s a great battler, a great teammate and really added perspective to the competition, being from Serbia.”
While having consistent success in doubles alongside Simic, Scatliffe has struggled at times in her singles game. The consensus team captain did go injury-free this season, but she hasn’t been able to put away lesser opponents this year, as her singles record stands at 5-14, good for the sixth best on the team.
“[Scatliffe]’s been responsible for a lot of great stuff in the women’s tennis program, on and off the court,” Kirkwood said. “She’s struggled a little this year in singles, but she’s always been our best doubles player, ever since she’s been here. On the court, she’s been a leader and a great captain that kept the team motivated and working hard.”
While she did struggle early in the season, Kausen has developed into a consistent player at the sixth singles spot, going 6-11 on the year and a team-best 11-7, alongside sophomore Tova Hausman in third-ranked doubles. Kausen earned her spot on the team the hard way, making the team as a walk-on and not competing in year-round tennis tournaments like many other players do to build up their experience.
“[Kausen] is one of the most self-motivated people I have ever coached,” Kirkwood said. “She has great work ethic, and just absorbs everything and applies everything immediately to her game to great results.”
Though each player wants to make an impact on the court, perhaps Mutzke’s greatest impact has been on the bench. In her four years in the program, the Newport Beach native has been just outside the top six, but a solid replacement both in singles and doubles, when one of the higher seeds couldn’t play.
“One of the reasons [Kausen] plays so hard is because [Mutzke]’s there right behind her, pushing her for that six spot,” Kirkwood said. “All the girls really respect her as a voice of reason out there, and she was always ready to go when we needed her.”
Santa Barbara, Davis (11-7, 3-3 Big West) and Cal Poly (9-10, 3-3 Big West) enter the weekend tied-up at 3-3 in conference play, making wins this weekend important for all three. First serve for the Gauchos’ final home game of the season begins at 1:30 p.m. today at the Rob Gym Tennis Courts, and UCSB finishes off the regular season Sunday in Cal Poly at noon.