The UCSB women’s tennis team had a long weekend, playing three matches in three days in Arizona to open the season. Unfortunately, the Gauchos lost all three matches against Arizona State, the University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University, but they did show some encouraging signs for the remainder of the season.
The women faced some very tough competition in the first match against Arizona State, who is ranked 30th in the ITA national rankings. Arizona State has the nation’s 58th-ranked singles player in junior Kelcy McKenna, who defeated the Gaucho’s #1 singles player sophomore Sofia Novak 6-4, 6-2. UCSB lost by a score of 1-5, with the lone win coming from freshman Annabel Gledden in her first collegiate dual match.
“Gledden was the only [player] that came back with a winning record [on the weekend],” Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said referring to Gledden’s 2-1 record in the team’s three matches. “She has unlimited potential.”
The competition did not let up the next day, as the Gauchos took on the University of Arizona, losing with a score of one to six The bright spot for UCSB was Novak’s win against the #46-ranked singles player in the nation, sophomore Natasha Marks. Novak won in just two sets (6-0, 6-2).
“Losing to Arizona State and the University of Arizona is nothing to be ashamed of,” Kirkwood said. “We feel like we could have beaten any team in the Big West with the level of play we played against ASU and [the University of Arizona].”
In their final match of the road trip the Gauchos took on NAU and lost by a very narrow margin, ending with a final score of three to four. UCSB took two of the three doubles matches, putting them up 1-0, but NAU won three of the first five singles matches to even the match score at 3-3. It all came down to a very tight match at the number one singles spot, where junior Orsi Golovics of NAU eventually edged out Novak in three sets (6-2, 7-6, 6-3), securing the team victory.
“It was just too much to ask of the girls,” Kirkwood said. “We didn’t have the energy to finish off and win at NAU on the third day. The loss was disappointing.”
However disappointing the loss may have been, the team will not let it get their spirits down. Many players put forth very competitive performances against strong opponents and the Gauchos know that this is only good news moving forward.
“We’re tough all the way down the lineup and we have no weaknesses,” Kirkwood said. “We’re really excited about the year now, and we’re ready to go.”