Gauchos Move Into 2nd Place in Big West With 4-3 Win Over CSUF

Stephanie Yamada (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Stephanie Yamada (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

Fullerton, Calif. – As the postseason nears, the opportunity for upsets and triumphs heightens. Sunday's road matchup against Cal State Fullerton was the golden opportunity for the UC Santa Barbara women's tennis team, who defeated the Titans 4-3.

UCSB's win put an end to Fullerton's undefeated home streak of 10-0, and moved the Gauchos up to second place in the Big West standings. The Gauchos improved to 9-12, 5-1 in conference play after winning their third consecutive match. CSUF is now 17-5 and 5-2 in the Big West.

"Today was a good and important win for us at Fullerton," Head Coach Simon Thibodeau said. "They were undefeated at home, playing really well. I'm proud of our Gauchos and their ability to pull through."

One key element that helped UCSB pull through was its win in doubles play. During Santa Barbara's winning streak, the Gauchos have managed to take a 1-0 lead in each match.

Helping set the tone in UCSB's last three matches has been its senior duo of Palina Dubavets and Natalie Da Silveira. Ranked No. 40 in the ITA doubles rankings, Dubavets and Da Silveira have now won their last four-straight matches.

They earned their fourth victory by beating Fullerton's Sarah Nuno and Karla Portalatin by a final score of 6-3.

Adding to the Gauchos winning start was the combo of senior Amanda Atanasson and junior Stephanie Yamada, who tallied a 6-4 win against Jacie Acidera Genevieve Zeidan on court No. 3. The victory set the tone for UCSB to enter singles play with a 1-0 lead.

Sophomore Amit Lev Ari and freshman Lise Sentenac trailed by a point, 6-5, to CSUF's Masako Makiba and Danielle Pham before the match was ruled unfinished.

After helping UCSB win the doubles point, Dubavets took matters into her own hands and prevailed with a momentous win in singles. Playing on court No. 1, Dubavets earned a 6-1, 6-3 win over Zeidan.

Despite trailing 2-0, the Titans did not allow UCSB's commanding start dissuade them as CSUF's Portalatin defeated Atanasson 6-1, 6-4 to trim her team's deficit to 2-1.

Fullerton managed to tie the score at 2-2 following a 6-2, 6-4 win by Acidera over Sentenac. The Titans capitalized on their momentum of back-to-back wins with a 6-4, 6-4 victory by Nuno to give CSUF a 3-2 lead.

Down one late in the match, Santa Barbara had been in this position before. On a few occasions, such a circumstance led to narrow defeat for the Gauchos.

However, Sunday had a different ending as UCSB put together consecutive wins to secure its third-straight win.

At the forefront of Santa Barbara's clutch finish was Lev Ari with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win on court No. 4 over Luxizi Meng.

The grand finale of the match took place between Yamada and Fullerton's Caisey Lee Emery. The battle between the two ultimately displayed the veteran history of UCSB's junior over CSUF's freshman as Yamada notched the match win for UCSB with a 6-4, 0-6, 6-2 victory.

"Today was definitely a big win for us. It was tough on each court and everyone had to work very hard to get points," Dubavets said. "It felt good to win against Fullerton today and have a three match streak, especially because [Fullerton] has been doing well against other Big West teams."

Following this week's pair of matches, the Gauchos have just one more weekend slate of matches before the regular season ends. Although it entered last season's Big West Tournament on a 10-match winning streak, UCSB has a chance to go into the postseason with just half of that mark, but could reap the same impact of confidence.

UCSB will play CSUN Friday, April 20 and Cal Poly on Saturday, April 21 to end things off.

Match Results

UC Santa Barbara at CSUF
UC Santa Barbara 4, CSUF 3
April 15, 2018 at Fullerton, Calif. 

#1. Palina Dubavets/Natalie Da Silveira (UCSB) def. Nuno, Sarah/Portalatin, Karla (CSF) 6-3
#2. Makiba, Masako/Pham, Danielle (CSF) vs. Amit Lev Ari/Lise Sentenac (UCSB) 6-5, unfinished
#3. Stephanie Yamada/Amanda Atanasson (UCSB) def. Acidera, Jadie/Zeidan, Genevieve (CSF) 6-4

#1. Palina Dubavets (UCSB) def. Zeidan, Genevieve (CSF) 6-1, 6-3
#2. Nuno, Sarah (CSF) def. Natalie Da Silveira (UCSB) 6-4, 6-4
#3. Portalatin, Karla (CSF) def. Amanda Atannason (UCSB) 6-1, 6-4
#4. Amit Lev Ari  (UCSB) def. Meng, Luxizi (CSF) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
#5. Stephanie Yamada (UCSB) def. Emery, Caisey Lee (CSF) 6-4, 0-6, 6-2
#6. Acidera, Jadie (CSF) def. Lise Sentenac (UCSB) 6-2, 6-4

Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (1,3,2,6,4,5)