The UCSB women’s tennis team kicks off its regular season with a three-game home stand this weekend, playing against Northern Arizona on Friday, San Jose State on Saturday and the University of San Francisco on Sunday.
The match against Northern Arizona will be the first of the regular season, as well as the first under new Head Coach Simon Thibodeau. Thibodeau brings with him an impressive resume, coming off of a nine-year stint at Fresno State where he won six Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year awards.
“[The coaching change] has helped us a lot because we’ve focused a lot on fitness this whole fall, so we all feel stronger than we ever have before,” sophomore April Scatliffe said. “We learned a lot on how to change strategies during our matches, and we’ve all learned how to be smarter players.”
In the opener, UCSB will be hoping to take advantage of Northern Arizona’s poor start to the season. Their opponent has managed to win only two games in their first three matches, resulting in a 0-3 record.
“Obviously our first match will be huge for us because getting a win from the start is a great confidence booster,” Scatliffe said. “Our main focus is just to fight really hard, be really competitive and loud and just come out with a win.”
UCSB will be looking to slow down senior Malia Wahinepio, who earned the season’s first Big Sky Conference Player of the Week award with her impressive play against No. 35 Arizona State.
The Gauchos’ next opponent will be San Jose State, a team boasting a solid 3-1 record and coming off a win against USF. Despite the more challenging second match, UCSB is focusing on taking it one match at a time.
“We expect them all to be tough matches but we’re ready and this first one has been our focus for a while,” Scatliffe said. “Right now we’re just super excited for Friday’s match.”
The last game of the weekend will be against USF, a team off to a 2-1 start to the season.
This season, the Gauchos welcome two new freshman players, Priscila Garcia and Alexandra Porath. They will also be looking to follow the lead of April Scatliffe, who led the team in wins last season.
The match against NAU will start today at 10 a.m. at the Rec Cen courts, and the matches against San Jose State and San Francisco will both be at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
A version of this article appeared on page 5 of February 1st, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.