After two hard-fought matches, the UCSB women’s tennis team was eliminated from the semifinals of the Big West Championships by #3-seeded UC Irvine on Saturday. The team did find success, however, on Friday when they defeated UC Davis 4-1 to advance past the quarterfinals.
The #2-seeded Gauchos brought their best against the Aggies knowing they had a tough road ahead if they wanted a shot at winning the tournament. The team’s determination was evident in the doubles point. Junior Tova Hausman and senior Bryanna Ojeda won 8-3 at the #1 position and senior Asagi Onaga and junior Jill Damion swept their opponents 8-0 at the #3 spot to give Santa Barbara the point.
The team went on to win three of the four completed singles matches to secure the victory. The Aggies captured their first and only point when Dahra Zamudio defeated UCSB sophomore Natalia Lozano 6-3, 6-1. Hausman, Damion and Ojeda won at the #3, #4 and #6 positions to give the Gauchos the win. The remaining two singles matches were not played out because they would not have affected the match outcome.
“It was a great performance,” Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said. “We did exactly what we wanted to do.”
UCSB had just a day to rest before taking on Irvine in the Semifinals — a match that proved to be much closer from the start. Damion and Onaga lost at the #3 spot 3-8, but Hausman and Ojeda picked it up at the #1 position, winning their match 8-3. This put all the weight on the match at the #2 position where sophomore Jordan Dockendorf and Lozano could not pull off a very close match and lost 6-8. This gave the doubles point to Irvine, putting them up 1-0.
Unfortunately for the Gauchos, the doubles point proved to be the deciding factor in the match, as the teams split the singles matches 3-3. Hausman dominated her opponent at the #3 spot, winning 6-1, 6-1 and tying up the match score at 1-1. However, UCI quickly went back ahead, winning its first singles match when Courtney Byron defeated Novak 6-2, 6-3 in the #1 position. UCSB would storm back to put themselves on the brink of victory, going up 3-2 with victories at the #2 and #4 spots.
Unfortunately, a win was not in the works for the Gauchos. Freshman Annabel Gledden fell 0-6, 3-6 in the #5 position and, after an incredible streak of 14 dual match wins in a row, Ojeda finally lost a match, falling 1-6, 5-7 to Kristina Smith at the #6 spot.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the team,” Kirkwood said. “If you don’t put everything into it you’re not that disappointed when you lose, but when you put everything you’ve got into it and you lose, it hurts.”