First Place UCSB Eyes Third Tournament Title in Four Years

Tiffany Lagarde (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Tiffany Lagarde (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.- For the second consecutive season, the UC Santa Barbara Women's Tennis team heads into the Big West Tournament as the top seed in the conference and looks to maintain its regular season dominance rout to another Big West crown.

Hosted at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens in Indian Wells Calif., the Gauchos head into the tournament daring conference foes to upend UCSB's regular season crown.

Spearheaded by reigning Big West Conference Athlete of the Week Amit Lev Ari, the Santa Barbara attack has proved to be a deadly disposition with a 7-1 conference record.

Having allowed just 13 points against across all eight conference meetings, Head Coach Simon Thibodeau and the Gauchos have held opponents to two or less points in eight of their final ten matches this season.

While Lev Ari has recorded an impressive 7-1 singles record in conference play and a 6-1 mark at singles No. 1, three separate Gauchos have posted five wins with just one loss in Big West matches.

Juliana Valero, Tiffany Lagarde, and Lise Sentenac have hit their stride when it matters most as the Gauchos appear to have a deep and dangerous lineup from court one to court six.

In the middle of the lineup, Lagarde has gone unbeaten from the third-spot against Big West challengers while the freshman has notched five wins in her last six matches.

Holding it down from the back half of the lineup, Valero has a 4-2 record from both courts four and five and has been a versatile component in both singles and doubles to the Gauchos' success.

In slot six, UCSB is is 12-6 during dual matches while Sentenac is responsible for six of those twelve wins.

Despite struggles from doubles No. 1, the Gauchos have a .764 and .737 win percentage from doubles No. 2 and 3 respectively, and have secured the doubles point in all but four matches with a 75% pairs advantage this season.

No. 1 UC Santa Barbara Women's Tennis kicks off its quest for another title in the Big West on Friday, April 26 at 8:30 a.m. at Indian Wells Tennis Gardens in Indian Wells, Calif. when the Gauchos will meet the winner of the first round matchup between No. 8 UC Irvine and No. 9 UC Riverside.