Gauchos Qualify for 2012 ITA National Kick-Off Weekend

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara women's tennis team finished the 2011 season ranked 62nd in the nation and, thus, qualified for the 2012 ITA National Kick-off Weekend Tournament to be held Jan. 27-30.

The Gauchos will play in one of 16 four-team regional tournaments. The 16 winners of the regional tourneys will qualify for the final championship site.

On June 9, a draft will be held to determine where teams will go. UCSB will be one of the final teams allowed to select its site and could wind up almost anywhere.

"My choices will be limited," said head coach Pete Kirkwood. We could end up in Palo Alto at the Stanford Regional, in Chapel Hill at the North Carolina Regional or somewhere in between."

Regardless of where his Gauchos play, Kirkwood is excited about the possibility.

"I am so proud of this team for working so hard all year and going through the ups and downs of an extremely competitive season," Kirkwood said. "We beat three nationally ranked teams and only lost to one team that wasn't nationally ranked.

"Our belief and confidence that we were an elite team was never dented," he continued. "At the end of the day, the National Ranking Committee confirmed what we already believed by giving us the No. 62 ranking and the automatic bid to the kick-off weekend."