The UCSB women’s tennis team prepares for a tough Harvard team in a match that promises to be an even contest because of the level of competition that both sides have faced up to this point in the season.
Santa Barbara is 6-5 overall, winning four out of its last five matches. The Gauchos have faced a plethora of ranked opposition and, more often than not, have kept the matches within a single point against ranked teams. However, it has managed a few upsets along the way defeating No. 64 Hawaii and most recently against Portland.
The Crimson are coming in just as hot as they currently are on a two game win streak, while also winning five of its last seven and stand 7-6 overall. Harvard has beaten two nationally ranked squads where the Gauchos have only beaten one, but both teams have faced ten ranked schools altogether.
Harvard has beaten, at the time, No. 43 Princeton and No. 53 Brown University. It’s most recents wins have come against Providence and Rhode Island finishing 7-0. However, that does not seem to be an issue for the Gauchos.
“I know they lost to Portland earlier, I know they are similar to portland. I just want to play our best and approach the same.” Said Head Coach Simon Thibodeau. “We look forward to the upcoming match.”
Even though UCSB is mixing it up with ten different pairings at doubles, certain players have been consistent throughout, including No. 19 in doubles junior Stefani Stojic and sophomore Palina Dubavets that are 13-3 together and have won nine out of their last ten. Along with them, recent standout sophomore Natalie Da Silveira.
The sophomore from Brazil has won four straight and in singles is 7-2 but with a nearly flawless dual record of 6-1. As a sophomore she has proven to be dependable at the five and six slots.
“Not a big surprise to see her do well at the six she could even be our five or four.” Said the Coach. “One thing i’m most happy with is that she is just getting better and better even after she came back from being inactive for about 6 months. She is solid, feisty attitude that wants to roll the opponent off the court pretty quickly.”
On the opposite side, Harvard has not been able to find consistency in doubles as it has tried over 15 combinations and pairings but has yet to find a stable group. Fortunately, in singles they have found some relief.
Crimson senior Amy He has won nine of her last 10 singles matches and holds an overall record of 16-4 in singles. However, the senior has only played at the five and six slots so she will have to look out for a tough matchup against the young Brasileira.
Fellow teammate, sophomore Nikki Kallenberg, has had a strong season so far in singles as well with 14-8 overall all in the first, second, and third slots. The sophomore leads her team in wins but has recently struggled winning only three of her last nine.
Santa Barbara, having recently fallen out of the national rankings due to narrow defeats against top teams in the country, will have to take the opportunities left in front of them in order to climb back into the top 50.
“We missed our chance for the top 25 but it’s still possible to get back up there if we win the big west and win a round in the NCAA,” Coach Thibodeau stated. “ We can reach the top 35 before the big west and we will see from there. Still confident we can, we just got to pull these big matches and just focus one game at a time.”
With only a few games left before finishing the rest of its Big West Conference matches, the Gauchos will have to come with a consistent lineup to meet the goals that were set in January.
UCSB is set to play Harvard at home at the Rec Center Courts Saturday, March 19th at noon.