Gauchos Blank UCR, Move on to Semis to Face Hawaii on Saturday

UCSB women's tennis team (Photo by Josh Barber)
UCSB women's tennis team (Photo by Josh Barber)

Indian Wells, Calif. – Phase one of the UC Santa Barbara women's tennis team's journey to three-peating as Big West Tournament champs is in the books after a 4-0 shutout victory of UC Riverside Friday morning.

UCSB's win advances it to the Semifinal round where it will face Hawaii, who handed the Gauchos their lone conference loss this season. It also gave Santa Barbara its sixth consecutive win, putting it at the .500 mark in the win-loss column with a now 12-12 overall. UCR ended its season with a 6-19 record.

The results of Friday's second meeting against the Highlanders were identical to the first in which the Gauchos swept the Highlanders 4-0.

"We played with a high level of concentration on each court today. We wanted to start this tournament on a solid [note and we did]. We will be ready to battle Hawaii tomorrow,' Head Coach Simon Thibodeau said.

Despite nearly a week off from competition, the Gauchos didn't skip a beat on Friday, as their momentum from ending the season with five-straight wins was evident.

Putting UCSB on the scoreboard first was the doubles duo of senior Amanda Atanasson and junior Stephanie Yamada, who dominated UCR's Natalie Penner and Tracy Van, blanking the pair 6-0 on court three.

The strong doubles stretch continued with Palina Dubavets and Natalie Da Silveira over on court No. 1. Hailing as the No. 42 doubles pair in the ITA rankings, the senior tandem of Dubavets and Da Silveira earned their seventh-straight doubles victory with a 6-1 win over Tia Elpusan and Sara Khattab to lock up a 1-0 lead for the Gauchos.

UCSB's dominant play was in tune across all courts as sophomore Amit Lev Ari and freshman Lise Sentenac held a 5-1 lead against Lauren Wolfe and Tamilla Vaksman before the match was ruled unfinished after the two prior victories.

It was a similar story in singles play, beginning with Da Silveira, who tallied a win in straight sets. Matched up against Riverside's Elpusan, Da Silveira blanked her opponent 6-0 in the first set. She nearly repeated the result in the second set with a 6-1 win to give UCSB a 2-0 lead.

Lev Ari made quick work of her clash against Chloe Pham, notching a 6-0, 6-1 win that extend the Gauchos' lead to 3-0.

On the cusp of a match victory, the Gauchos were rolling and the Highlanders had no answer to stop them.

Claiming Santa Barbara's final win on the day was Atanasson, who put together a 6-2, 6-2 victory in her bout against UC Riverside's Khattab to clinch the Quarterfinal win for UCSB, 4-0.

"I felt like we competed and focused very well. The team had positive vibes and took care of business. It felt really good to be back on these courts," Atanasson said.

Looking ahead to Saturday, much anticipation surrounds the matchup between UCSB and Hawaii, which is set to begin at 9:30 a.m.

The following link will provide a livestream of the match: http://statb.us/c/bwest/218151