Amit Lev Ari Clinches as Gauchos Knock Off Saint Mary’s in a Thriller

Amit Lev Ari (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Amit Lev Ari (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.- For its third win in a row, The UC Santa Barbara Women's Tennis team knocked off the Saint Mary's College Gaels with a 4-3 thriller to improve to 3-1 on the year.

The Gauchos have started off hot in each of their four matches this season, and it was no different against the Gaels.

From court one, senior Stephanie Yamada and sophomore Elizaveta Volodko conquered Saint Mary's sophomore Hind Abdelouahid and freshman Chloe Goyette with ease to take a 6-1 victory and start UCSB off on the right foot.

Mary's put up a fight on court three as senior Clementine Clement and Liesl Pieters downed Gaucho junior Amit Lev Ari and freshman Tiffany Lagarde to hand the pair its first double loss of the season.

With the doubles point up in the air, freshman Anastasia Goncharova and junior Juliana Valero stepped up to the plate for a thrilling comeback victory to vanquish sophomore Aubane Ville and sophomore Mariia Kozyreva with a 7-6 (7-5) triumph to clinch a the doubles point for UC Santa Barbara.

"The doubles win gave us some confidence, but at the same time, we have to regain focus because we're so excited heading into singles," said Head Coach Simon Thibodeau. "We regrouped and battled well to get the win today."

In singles Kozyreva bounced back for the Gaels to defeat Tiffany Lagarde on court one with a 6-1, 6-2 as Saint Mary's was hoping to mount a fierce comeback over the Gauchos.

On court five, Stephanie Yamada held off the resurgence with a 6-1, 6-2 win of her own to down Aubane Ville and put UCSB back on top.

Freshman Jordan Harris picked up a two-set win against sophomore Lise Sentenac from court six with a 6-3, 6-3 result which tied it up at two points a piece.

Just minutes later, Elizaveta Volodko held off an impending comeback from Clementine Clements for a 6-3, 7-5 win on court two and once again gave the Gauchos a lead.

Following a tough finish from the fourth spot which resulted in a 1-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-0 win for Chloe Gayette against Anastasia Goncharova, the final point was up for grabs with pressure riding on the match from court three.

Amit Lev Ari showed up where it counted the most and came away as the hero for UCSB with the clincher and a clutch 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 6-3 triumph over Hind Abdelouahid to close it out and secure the third consecutive victory for the Gauchos.

"The clinch for Amit is a big moment for our team," said Coach Thibodeau. "Amit fought very hard in that match I think she'll gain a lot of confidence from this win today."

Watch Amit Lev Ari regroup following her singles win in crunch time:

Santa Barbara gets back to action next Saturday, February 16 at 12 p.m. as the Gauchos host the 3-1 USC Trojans.

Match Results

UC Santa Barbara 4, Saint Mary's 3

Singles competition

1. Mariia Kozyreva (SM) def. Tiffany Lagarde (UCSB) 6-1, 6-2

2. Elizaveta Volodko (UCSB) def. Clementine Clement (SM) 6-3, 7-5

3. Amit Lev-Ari (UCSB) def. Hind Abdelouahid (SM) 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 6-3

4. Chloe Goyette (SM) def. Anastasia Goncharova (UCSB) 1-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-0

5. Stephanie Yamada (UCSB) def. Aubane Ville (SM) 6-1, 6-2

6. Jordan Harris (SM) def. Lise Sentenac (UCSB) 6-3, 6-3

Doubles competition

1. Stephanie Yamada/Elizaveta Volodko (UCSB) def. Hind Abdelouahid/Chloe Goyette (SM) 6-1 

2. Anastasia Goncharova/Juliana Valero (UCSB) def. Mariia Kozyreva/Aubane Ville (SM) 7-6 (7-5)

3. Clementine Clement/Liesl Pieters (SM) def. Amit Lev-Ari/Tiffany Lagarde (UCSB) 6-2

Match Notes:
Saint Mary's 1-4, UC Santa Barbara 3-1

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