The top four players on the UCSB women’s tennis team competed in the 2010 ITA Southwest Regional hosted in San Diego, Calif. this weekend. The Gauchos managed to win a pair of early matches, but eventually found themselves in a hole in a regional tournament that was dominated by USC and competition from the rest of the Pac-10.

[media-credit id=20037 align=”alignleft” width=”191″][/media-credit]The final of the singles championship was a duel between Trojan teammates: USC sophomore Danielle Lao and top-ranked USC senior Maria Sanchez. Lao won the best of three sets series and defeated two-time defending champion Sanchez 6-2; 3-6; 6-2. Due to poor weather conditions in San Diego, the final was moved to Los Angeles and played at USC Marks Stadium.

Although UCSB failed to advance far in the tournament, the Gauchos scraped a couple wins against the best competition they will see all season. In the opening round of the singles bracket, freshman Kiersten Meehan didn’t allow her opponent to score in the first set, defeating Pepperdine sophomore Tara Panu in straight sets 6-0; 6-2.

“Pepperdine usually has a good team, it was good to beat one of their girls,” Meehan said. “Regionals are a big deal. There was a lot more competition this tournament. We were focused.”

In the second round, Meehan faced University of Arizona junior Susan Mc Rann. Although Mc Rann won the first set 6-1, Meehan managed to fight back and won the second set by three games 3-6. Mc Rann won the final set and the match, defeating Meehan 6-1; 3-6; 6-1.

The only Gaucho with a first round bye, senior Jill Damion, lost in the second round of the tournament as well. USC freshman Kaitlyn Christian won six straight games to earn the first set and then won the next set 6-2, certifying victory of the best of three match 6-0; 6-2.

“I knew she was good going into it, but I didn’t play well,” Damion said. “I got my ass handed to me by a freshman.”

Junior Jordan Dockendorf lost her opening-round match to Pepperdine freshman Megan Moore 6-3; 6-2.

In the doubles bracket of the tournament, Jill Damion and Kiersten Meehan lost their opening match in the round of 32 to the seventh ranked pair from the University of Hawai’i, junior Barbara Pinterova and sophomore Katarina Poljakova — both of whom hail from Slovakia.

Despite the tough competition and big away crowds, the Gauchos hung around and showed signs of improvement.

“Back to weights at practice this morning,” Damion said. “Last week was a stressful week and now we have practice everyday this week.”

Each of the players that did not play in the ITA Southwest Regional tournament will travel to Northridge for the next stop in UCSB women’s tennis, the Cal State Northridge Classic from Nov 5. to Nov. 7.