Top Teams Await as Gauchos Hit the Road for Five-Game Stretch

Anastasia Goncharova (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Anastasia Goncharova (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.- Following five matches at home, the UC Santa Barbara Women's Tennis team takes to the road for a five-game road stretch in which it starts out with matches against No. 5 UCLA, No. 16 Cal, and UC Davis over the upcoming weekend.

UCSB is rocking a 4-3 record heading into their busy weekend slate following a 5-2 win against San Jose State last Sunday afternoon.

The Gauchos kick off their road trip down in southern California to take on a tremendous UCLA team that enters in with a 7-1 dual match record.

"UCLA is a really tough team, but we're hoping to feed off of the win against San jose heading into the match," said Head Coach Simon Thibodeau. "We like to face good teams and we're going to give them a fight."

Led by singles No. 11 Elysia Bolton, the Bruins have dominated all but one of their matches, a 4-1 loss to No. 3 North Carolina on February 10.

Bolton has posted a 16-5 singles record through dual match season and hasn't fallen off in doubles play as she contributes to the No. 14 doubles pair in the country while paired up with redshirt junior Jada Hart.

Believe it or not, Bolton and Hart aren't even the best doubles pair on UCLA. The Bruins also boast the No. 8 pair in the country comprised of seniors Gabby Andrews and Anya Broomfield.

It doesn't get any easier from there as senior Alaina Miller and sophomore Abi Altick team up as the national No. 38 doubles pair.

After the Gauchos meet No. 5 UCLA, they then shift their attention up north for No. 16 Cal.

"We know it won't be easy to play Cal after UCLA, but it will only make us stronger," added Thibodeau. "We need to play good competition to compete at our highest level during conference play."

Cal jumped up eight spots in the ITA rankings as of late following its stout 4-3 loss to UCLA just last weekend.

The Bears meet UCSB with a 5-3 record having suffered losses to UCLA, No. 6 Vanderbilt, and No. 10 South Carolina.

Cal is a well-rounded team with three national top 70 players spearheaded by No. 20 Olivia Hauger. The senior is 7-2 in dual matches and 19-6 in overall singles play.

Complemented by No. 45 Julia Rosenqvist and No. 69 Anna Bright the Bears have a singles lineup that is sure to trip up any opponent.

On the doubles end, Bright and sophomore Jasie Dunk form the No. 23 pair in the country while Rosenqvist teams up with Hana Mraz to rank a No. 28 nationally.

Following two difficult meetings toward the former half of the weekend, the Gauchos head into Davis, Calif. To face the 3-6 Aggies for UCSB's first conference match of the season.

Davis has certainly struggled through dual match play thus far so the Gauchos are looking to end their weekend on a high note with a conference win.

Although it will be UCSB's first conference matchup of the season, Davis is 2-2 in conference matches with losses to UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton.

With the horizon in the distance, the UC Santa Barbara Women's Tennis team kicks off its difficult away slate on Thursday, February 28 against No. 5 UCLA before traveling up to No. 16 Cal on Saturday, March 2. UCSB is then scheduled to meet UC Davis on Sunday, March 3 for its first conference matchup of the year.