Fourth-Seeded Gauchos Travel to Big West Championships

April 25, 2006

The Schedule
2006 Big West Conference Women's Tennis Championships
Indian Wells Tennis Garden • Indian Wells, Calif.

Friday, April 28, 2006 - First Round
No. 1 Long Beach State vs. No. 8 UC Riverside - 9:00 a.m.
No. 2 UC Irvine vs. No. 7 Cal State Fullerton - 9:00 a.m.
No. 3 Cal Poly vs. No. 6 Pacific - 3:00 p.m.
No. 4 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 5 Cal State Northridge - 3:00 p.m.

Saturday, April 29, 2006 - Semifinals
LBSU/UCR winner vs. UCSB/CSUN winner - 9:00 a.m.
UCI/CSF winner vs. CP/UOP winner - 9:00 a.m.

Sunday, April 30, 2006
Championship - 9:00 a.m

The Gaucho Record
An automatic berth in the 64-team NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Tournament will go to the winner of the 2006 Big West Conference Championships, held this weekend at the Indian Wells Tennis Complex in Indian Wells, Calif. After posting a 5-2 record in league matches (13-8 overall), UC Santa Barbara enters tourney play as the No. 4 seed, where it will face No. 5 Cal State Northridge (15-6, 3-4) in first round action on Friday, April 28 at 3:00 p.m. The Gaucho-Matador victor will then face either top-seeded Long Beach State or No. 8 UC Riverside in the semifinal round on Saturday, April 29 at 9:00 p.m. The championship match is slated for 9:00 a.m. the following day, with the titlist earning the Big West's automatic NCAA tourney berth. UCSB - currently ranked 70th nationally - enters the conference tournament having split its last six dual matches.

Tough Up Top
A lineup typically featuring five seniors has provided the Gauchos with a healthy dose of stability, especially at the top-two spots where a pair of returning All-Big West performers lead the charge. Marielle Gruenig - a 2005 first team all-league selection - has come back strong from an early-season knee injury to post a 13-4 singles record, all at No. 1. The Basel, Switzerland native had her seven-match winning streak snapping in the regular-season finale vs. Long Beach State. Meanwhile Chelsea Glynn owns a 15-7 dual match record, going 10-6 at her usual No. 2 singles spot and 5-1 while filling in for the injured Gruenig at No. 1. Glynn was a Second Team All-Big West performer last season after transferring from Iowa.

Mystery at No. 3 Doubles
The aforementioned players have been equally reliable as a tandem, teaming for a 12-3 record at No. 2 doubles. Another senior, Andrea Pintar, has been pairing with sophomore Charlotte Scatliffe all season long at the top doubles spot with similar success, going 15-4. Fortunately for the Gauchos those tandems have clinched the doubles point more often than not, because in 2006 the No. 3 spot has been Santa Barbara's Achilles' heel. UCSB has tried three different combinations in that position, producing a cumulative record of just 11-9.

Two of the Gauchos' Big West victories were by the slimmest of margins, and both were clinched by senior Leslie Damion and her nerves of steel. Deadlocked with Cal State Northridge at three wins apiece on March 5, the match came down to the Damion's battle with Matador senior Yu Yu Myinttun at No. 5 singles. Trailing 1-5 in the third set, the Newport Beach, Calif., native rallied to triumph 7-6, 2-6, 7-6 and secure victory for the home team. On April 7, Damion was locked in another decisive tiebreaker, this time with freshman Ali Borowicz of 51st-ranked UC Irvine. The two-time All-Big West honorable mention performer showed her experience, prevailing 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 as Santa Barbara pulled off the 4-3 road upset. Danion has posted a 13-8 singles record this season, primarily at No. 5 spot.

On the Horizon
Should the Gauchos win the Big West Championship, they will advance to the NCAA Tournament. First and second round matches will be held at campus sites between May 12 and 17. The 16 remaining teams will advance to the NCAA Championships, May the 17-28 in Stanford, Calif.