November 7, 2008

Gauchos Compete in Two Fall Season Tournaments

Nov. 7, 2008

San Diego, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara women's tennis team competed in the ITA West Regional held by the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego and the Rainbow Invitational which was hosted by the University of Hawai'i.

On Oct. 23, the Gauchos travled down to San Diego to make a splash in the back draw of the ITA West Regionals. After losing in the main draw, all seven Gauchos advanced to the round of 16 with Michelle Murphy, Sofia Novak and Natalia Lozano making it through to the round to the quarterfinals of the consolation event. Murphy advanced to the semis by defeatingUSC's Lindsay Kinsler 7-6, 6-7, 1-0.

"It was one of the most thrilling matches I've ever watched," head coach Pete Kirkwood said. "She won each and every match she played in the back draw in the third set tie-breaker. It was increadible."

However, Murphy came up short in the next round against Long Beach State's Devorah Armstrong.

Asagi Onaga lost her second round match to the No. 11 seed in the region 7-5 in the third set tie-breaker. Rathchaya Chaichanachaicharn defeated former Dos Pueblos High star Jordan Dockendorf 6-2, 6-2 in the first round of the consolations.

"Our debth this year is phenomenal," coach Kirkwood announced. "And I'm proud of our team's fight and spirit out on the courts in singles play this afternoon."

In doubles competition, Tova Hausman and Murphy defeated No. 3 seed from Pepperdine 9-7 in the second round. The duo held two match points at 7-6 but let it slip away. But instead of folding the Gaucho pair broke serve right back and then held serve to win. Unfortunately, luck ran out for the streaking Gauchos as the pair was eliminated in the round of 16 by Hannah Grady and Stephanie Jeanes of Long Beach State.

In the Gauchos fall debut two weeks prior the ITA West Regional, the women of blue and gold set out to play in the Rainbow Invitational at the University of Hawai'i. The Gauchos won seven of 21 singles matches and three of nine doubles matches. "It was not that impressive on paper, but the quality of play was high and the Gauchos have proved that fight, effort and willingness to improve are going to be our strengths this year," coach Kirkwood explained.

The Gauchos also had to play without No. 1 Jill Damion who underwent successful surgery a day before the tournament to be ready for the regular season.

Murphy, taking over for the injured Damion at the No. 1 slot, doled out a loss to TCU's Gaby Mastromarina on day one feeding her a 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 defeat. Asagi Onaga, Sofia Novak and Ratchaya Chaichanachaicharn followed suit picking up victories in the same round.

On day two, the Gauchos struggled heavily, going 0-11. The downfall was due in part to Texas Christian University's impressive play, tallying 30 out of 32 victories for the tournament. TCU was ranked No. 26 in the nation last year and boasts two nationally ranked singles players.

The Gauchos finally rallied back on day three, where Bryanna Ojeda, Jean and Michelle Murphy picked up victories in singles play and the pair of Ojeda and Lozano finishing with a solid doubles win.

"All in all it was a great experience for the team," coach Kirkwood concluded. "We competed against opponents we normally don't get to see and really bonded and able to grow as a team."

The UCSB women will start again in Cal Poly on Nov. 14 where they will finish fall tournament play.