The women’s tennis team will be on the road for the first time this season, heading south to Cal State Northridge on Saturday for its first Big West game of the season.

[media-credit name=”Lance Chu” align=”alignright” width=”166″][/media-credit]The Gauchos (5-1 overall) have won five straight matches, outscoring their opponents 33-0 in the stretch. Meanwhile, the Matadors (4-4 overall) have already played three Big West matches on their way to a 1-2 conference record.

“We’re definitely looking forward to [our first conference match],” junior Jill Damion said. “We should beat Northridge.”

Last season, the Gauchos defeated the Matadors 6-1.

“We played one of our best matches last year against them,” Head Coach Pete Kirkwood said. “But that was last year. We’re ready to go [this weekend].”

Juniors Natalia Lozano and Jordan Dockendorf lead the way as the #1 doubles pair. The duo is undefeated in their doubles matches this season. In fact, the UCSB Athletics Dept. voted Lozano ‘Athlete of the Week’ for her performance against Wyoming and San Francisco last weekend.

“It’s always nice to be recognized for an individual effort,” Kirkwood said. “It’s exciting for her.”

For Cal State Northridge, senior Brooke Doane was named Big West women’s tennis ‘Athlete of the Week,’ going 2-0 in both singles and doubles matches and helping her team sweep Cal State Fullerton 7-0. The Matadors almost upset #43 Long Beach State last weekend, losing 4-3.

“They’re capable of stepping up and playing really well,” Kirkwood said.

Kirkwood said the team fully expects to have tougher matches now that it begins conference play and that their current win steak is irrelevant.

“We don’t expect to sweep any of our upcoming competition,” he said. “Teams like Cal Poly, Long Beach State, and UC Irvine are going to be really tough.”

Rain is in Saturday’s forecast for Northridge.

“We’re playing well, the only thing that could stop us now is the weather,” Kirkwood said. “If it gets rained out, that would put a little stoppage in our momentum.”

Still, the team is resolved to focus on what they can control and do well.

“When weather’s good, we need to be ready to go,” Kirkwood said.

Match time is set for 12 p.m. on Feb. 19 at the Matador Tennis Complex. If the match gets rained out, it would be rescheduled for March 12.