Gauchos Open 2017 Dual Season Thursday vs. No. 18 USC at S.B. Tennis Club

Amanda Atanasson (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Amanda Atanasson (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara women's tennis team will open its 2016-17 season on January 20th at the Tennis Club of Santa Barbara against No. 18 USC.

"We have strong opponents on our schedule to start the year," said head coach Simon Thibodeau. "It will only make our team better for the continuation of our season."

Following the match against the Trojans, UCSB will travel to Lubbock, Texas for a Jan. 28 dual match against Texas Tech and then matches against South Carolina and Arizona State on Jan. 29.

Thibodeau also said that the players got strong performance this fall and will feed confidence from it.

The Gauchos will be led by Jaimee Gilbertson, Stefani Stojic, Melissa Baker, Palina Dubavets, Amanda Atanasson, Natalie Da Silveira, Stephanie Yamada, McKenzie Majerle, and Amit Lev-Ari.

 "We are also excited to add Amit Lev-Ari to our roster," Thibodeau said. "She was a top-5 women's tennis player in Israel and will be a strong asset to the team."

The duo of Baker and Yamada are ranked No. 6 in the tough Southwest Region and are ranked No. 33 nationally. Although unranked, the doubles team of Dubavets and Stojic advanced to the second round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament before losing a tough three-set match to the top-seeded team.

As a team, UCSB is the defending Big West Conference Tournament champion. The Gauchos advanced to their first NCAA Tournament in two decades and won the program's first postseason match ever, over Kansas, before falling to Cal in the second round.