Berkeley, Calif. – It was evident in Sunday's matchup against No. 15 California that improvements were made from the previous day's shutout loss. Still, the UC Santa Barbara women's tennis team ended the weekend winless following a 5-2 defeat to the Bears.
UCSB endured its third-straight loss and is now 3-6. Sunday's victory was the third consecutive win for Cal, who improved to 4-1. The Gauchos last experienced a three-match streak last season, then followed their slump with 10-straight wins to close out the regular season and win the Big West Tournament title.
"It was a tough weekend. Having to play against a dangerous team like St. Mary's, then Berkeley, who is No. 13 in the country, the next day," senior Palina Dubavets said. "We weren't happy with the results. We've been on and off in matches and didn't execute as good as we should have. We learned from yesterday's match, and even today although we lost. We left it all on the court. It was a four hour match and everyone fought hard all the way through."
Despite eventually losing, a possible road upset brewed as the Gauchos struck first during doubles play. At the forefront of UCSB's surge was Dubavets and fellow senior partner Natalie Da Silveira as they took on Cal's Anna Bright and Julia Rosenqvist, and defeated the home side 6-3.
Nonetheless, intense battles continued on courts two and three. UCSB remained committed to who played on the latter courts, finishing the weekend with the same lineup changes it made on Saturday.
As doubles play progressed, Cal began to establish a rhythm that led to its comeback to seal the doubles point. A 6-4 loss by UCSB's duo of senior Amanda Atanasson and freshman Lise Sentenac to Hana Mraz and Maria Smith on court No. 3 tied things up.
The winner of the doubles point came down to the matchup that took place on court two. Going head-to-head in the final doubles duel was UCSB's tandem of junior Stephanie Yamada and sophomore Amit Lev Ari versus the Bears' duo of Vivian Glozman and Olivia Hauger.
When all was said and done, it was Cal's pair that emerged for a 6-4 win to clinch the doubles point, tallying a 1-0 lead for the Bears.
It was the third-straight doubles point loss for the Gauchos, yet much more of the match remained to be played.
The beginning stages of singles play showed signs that UCSB still had a chance to achieve a come-from-behind victory. Helping boost the Gauchos' potential comeback was Sentenac, who entered Sunday 2-3 in singles play following a loss the day before.
Facing Cal's Audrey Mayer, Sentenac did not hold back, winning in straights sets 6-2, 6-0 to tie the score at 1-1.
Breaking the tie was the Bears' Hauger. The nation's No. 33 ranked player put together a 6-2, 6-2 win over Da Silveira to regain Cal's lead a 2-1.
The exchange of points continued on court No. 4, in which Lev Ari played an intense three sets against Glozman. Lev Ari found herself down early, losing the first set 6-3.
Although she trailed, Lev Ari prevented Glozman from taking full control of the match and responded with consecutive wins in the contest's final sets – 6-4, 6-3 – and ended UCSB's deficit as her win tied the match once again, 2-2.
"It was a close match. We were so close to beating Cal. We lost three singles matches that were close in the third set. Those could have turned around the final score in our favor," Assistant Coach Maria Fernanda Alves said.
Such matches summed up the rest of Sunday's matchup as the Bears took over and didn't let up.
Igniting Cal's late pull away was Bright, the Bear's top ranked player at No. 28. She and Dubavets clashed on court one as Bright jumped out to an early lead with a 6-3 win in the first set. However, Dubavets managed to answer Bright's play and prevailed for a hard-fought 7-5 second set win. Bright eventually ended the match with a 6-4 in the final set to give Cal a 3-2.
From that point on, the momentum had shifted. Jasie Dunk stepped up big for the Bears, defeating Yamada 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to clinch the overall match victory with a 4-2 score.
Rather than end the match after Cal hit the four-point mark, UCSB finished out the match. Sunday's meeting against the Bears ended with Atanasson losing to Smith 6-3, 6(3)-7, 4-6.
While a third consecutive loss surely wasn't in the Gauchos' weekend plans, their need for improvement in closing out matches is something they can key in on moving forward.
"We learned from yesterday's match, and even today although we lost. We left it all on the court. It was a four hour match and everyone fought hard all the way through," Dubavets said.
UCSB's next matches will be at home at the Rec Cen courts. The Gauchos will have another home doubleheader, and most notably will be playing in their first conference matches of the season.
UC Santa Barbara will host both UC Davis and UC Riverside next Saturday, Feb. 24.
No. 15/17 California (4-1) defeated UC Santa Barbara (3-6), 5-2
Feb. 18, 2018, in Berkeley, Calif.
Hellman Tennis Complex
1. Palina Dubavets/Natalie Da Silveira (UCSB) def. Anna Bright/Julia Rosenqvist (Cal), 6-3
2. Vivian Glozman/Olivia Hauger (Cal) def. Stephanie Yamada/Amit Lev Avri (UCSB), 6-4*
3. Hana Mraz/Maria Smith (Cal) def. Amanda Atanasson/Lise Sentenac (UCSB), 6-4
Cal won the doubles point
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2*
1. No. 28 Anna Bright (Cal) def. Palina Dubavets (UCSB), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4
2. No. 33 Olivia Hauger (Cal) def. Natalie Da Silveira (UCSB), 6-2, 6-2
3. Maria Smith (Cal) def. Amanda Atanasson (UCSB), 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-4
4. Amit Lev Avri (UCSB) def. Vivian Glozman (Cal), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
5. Jasie Dunk (Cal) def. Stephanie Yamada (UCSB), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4^
6. Lise Sentenac (UCSB) def. Audrey Mayer (Cal), 6-2, 6-0
^Clinched the overall match
Order of Finish: 6, 2, 4, 1, 5^, 3