Bryanna Ojeda’s tennis career at UCSB has come to an end after the Gauchos were knocked out in the semifinals of the Big West Tournament, but the senior from Bakersfield didn’t go without a fight.

[media-credit id=20120 align=”alignleft” width=”249″][/media-credit]“I’m such a competitive person in all aspects of my life,” Ojeda said. “Of course I don’t like to lose.”

Unlike most college tennis players who had a tennis racket in their hands shortly after learning to walk, Ojeda did not start playing competitive tennis until age 11. Her mother, who played professionally, was reluctant to let her daughter have tennis consume her life. But once she began to play, Ojeda never stopped. Starting at such a late age proved to be a big obstacle, but she never let it get in her way.

“Once I started playing, I loved tennis,” Ojeda said. “I struggled because I started so late. I never felt like I was playing to my capability.”

Helping her learn the game was her mother, who right away became her coach. The relationship was not easy, but mother and daughter made it work.

“We fought all the time,” Ojeda said. “It was hard, but she was my best friend. We fought through and worked hard together.”

The hard work did pay off, but it took some time. Ojeda played in just a handful of matches her freshman and sophomore year as a Gaucho. The lack of matches was frustrating, but she simply worked harder and, by her junior year, had solidified her place in the lineup.

“Her desire to want to be in the starting lineup was just a little bit stronger than most of her competition,” Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said. “There was no way I could keep her out of the lineup, and she didn’t let me down.”

This season, Ojeda won an incredible 14 consecutive singles dual matches before finally losing one in the Gauchos’ final outing. Her 14-1 singles record during her senior season improved upon an already impressive 14-5 record from her junior year.  This puts her singles record at an astonishing 28-6 in her last two years at Santa Barbara. She also played in the doubles lineup and, midway through the season, moved up to play at the #1 position with new partner Tova Hausman. The duo clicked right away and went 7-1 on the season together.

“She was really our best doubles player,” Kirkwood said. “She’s a competitor, and she knows how to win.”

Apart from leading her team on the court, Ojeda has been an excellent example for her teammates in the community. She has had a big hand in initiating many of the team’s community service and fundraising projects.

“She has a sense of maturity and an aura about her that people respect,” Kirkwood said. “To see her blossom into a successful Division I player her last two years is just icing on the cake.”