The UCSB women’s tennis team shut out Cal State Bakersfield 7-0 in their season opener on a windy Sunday afternoon at the Robertson Gymnasium courts, beginning the season 1-0 and setting a positive tone for the rest of the season.
“Staying positive is the theme for the year,” Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said. “We have a fairly young team, so mentally we have to try and keep our poise and learn how to get through the battles.”
The Gauchos took every possible set in the match, sweeping the doubles point and winning each of the six singles matches in two sets. Bakersfield, which is Kirkwood’s alma mater, is a school without a conference, in limbo because they are attempting to transition from a division II to a division I program. “We could have won by playing sloppy,” Kirkwood said. “But we kept our focus and played solid tennis. [Bakersfield] wasn’t the toughest team on our schedule, but it was the first match so we came out with excitement and energy. We really played well today.”
In the doubles point, the third doubles team of junior Bryanna Ojeda and Natalia Lozano were the first off the court with an 8-2 victory. The second team of junior Asagi Onaga and freshman Sofia Novak won 8-1 and the first team of sophomore Jill Damion and junior Michelle Murphy won 8-2. Murphy, a transfer from Michigan State who lives in Irvine, also won in the first singles spot 6-1,6-3. According to Kirkwood, the Gauchos have an entirely different lineup from last season, when the team went 10-14 and lost 4-0 to Long Beach State in the second round of the Big West Tournament on April 26.
“We were very top heavy last season,” Kirkwood said. “This season, we might not be as strong at the top, but we are better overall from one through six.”
In the second spot, Damion is the only player to hold the same position she held last season. She won 6-2, 6-3. In the third spot, Onaga won 6-3, 6-1. She started five matches in the third spot and 17 in the fourth last season. Novak occupies the fourth spot, winning 6-1, 6-3 in her career debut as a Gaucho. At the fifth spot, Lozano also won her Gaucho debut 6-1, 6-2. In the last singles spot, junior Bryanna Ojeda won both her sets 6-2.
Ojeda is a part of the starting lineup for the first time in her career as a Gaucho. She replaces junior Tova Hausman, who started at the fifth spot last season and sustained a back injury before the start of the season. She is out indefinitely.
The Gauchos have next week off. They continue playing on the weekend of February 7, when they travel north to play UC Davis and Cal Poly.