Lady Corsairs Topple Santa Barbara in Thrilling Fashion; Win 5-4
The Lady Corsairs have done it again. Blame it on the coach, the team chemistry, or the super cute uniforms, but whatever magical mix they're working with, it has translated to a golden season for the SMC women's tennis team, now ranked 5-0 in the Western Conference. Last Tuesday, the Lady Corsairs met their undefeated opponent, the Santa Barbara City College Vaqueros, for a conference match at Reed Park. After a tense four and a half hour battle, the Corsairs left the park with a 5-4 victory over their toughest rival.
"I was surprised at how tough an opponent Santa Barbara is," coach Richard Goldenson said.
The Vaqueros tested the mettle of the Corsairs in the six singles matches of which ended in a 3-3 split. The Corsairs would strike first, with their power hitter from the Ivory Coast, Jutta Collet, decisively defeating Santa Barbara's Amy Sagraves in three sets, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. Sophomore Anastasia Eliseeva followed Collet's dominant performance with one of her own, as she also toppled her opponent, Lindsay Penner, this time in straight-sets.
The Corsairs would continue their early success, as freshman Tiana Lauritzen capped off SMC's third consecutive victory with another straight-set finish over the Vaqueros' Kendra Ross.
With the top half thriving for Santa Monica, the Corsairs were sitting pretty heading into their fourth singles match. But much to the fans chagrin, the Vaqueros would not go down quietly, snatching the momentum right back from SMC, as they ran off three straight victories of their own.
With the singles matches knotted at three games apiece, the Corsairs knew they had to rely on their doubles prowess to come away with the win. Santa Monica began with a bang, as the team of Collet/Penez moved in quickly for the kill against SBCC's Sagraves/Schaeffer, and finished with an 8-4 victory. But as they had throughout the entire contest, Santa Barbara continued to strike back. The Vaqueros' combination of Slyutova/Tapu eked out a very close decision that resulted in an 8-6 loss for SMC's Thomas/Kauffman.
As the game hung in the balance, the Corsairs' final team of Eliseeva/Lauritzen prepared for an anticipated showdown versus Santa Barbara's Penner/Ross. The Vaqueros took any early 3-game lead over the Lady Corsairs, but the resilient SMC team refused to lose, battling back from the deficit and completing the comeback with a thrilling 9-8 tie-breaking victory.
Coach Goldenson's faith never wavered throughout the strenuous affair, and he believed that his team would pull through. "I hoped we would play well and give it everything we had and that definitely happened," Goldenson said. "The team is undefeated in conference because they are smart tennis players."
A fifth consecutive western conference win for the Corsairs means they will be definite contenders in the playoffs.
Assistant coach Adam Davis has no worries about the Corsairs performing well in playoff season. "We have a very strong team in both singles and doubles," he said.
Goldenson says the key to his team's success, "more than anything" is that "they play as a team and not as individuals," he said. "If they continue to play smart tennis and stay united, anything can happen for this team," Goldenson said.