San Diego, Calif. – A trip to the ITA Southwest Regional semifinal round is in place for the UCSB women's tennis team's doubles duo of Natalie Da Silveira and Palina Dubavets. With wins in both the Round of 16 and quarterfinals, the No. 6 seeded partners will face Loyola Marymount's Veronika Miroshnichenko and Eva Voracek, who are the tournament's No. 7 seed, on Sunday at 10 a.m.
"They've won three matches so far, which is a good start considering it was their first tournament together. The match against UCLA, which was the duo that beat Elizaveta and Stephanie, was one that we anticipated would be a tough match," Head Coach Simon Thibodeau said. "The match was on the first court and we cheered them on as they played some inspiring tennis. UCLA never really had momentum because we stayed toe-to-toe with them throughout the entire match. Nevertheless, it was still a close match that could have gone either way, but we slipped through at the end and won 8-6. Tomorrow we're playing two out of three sets instead of a pro eight, so it's going to be a tough match but we'll give ourselves a chance if we just play hard every point."
Looking ahead, it is likely that the Gauchos are excited about a possible finals appearance after having two doubles team play in the ITA Southwest Regional semifinals last season. Seeking a greater outcome is Dubavets, who was a part of UCSB's No. 1 seeded pair in 2016 alongside former Gaucho Stefani Stojic.
The two Gauchos were pitted against USC's Constance Branstine and Sydney Van Alphen in their Round of 16 matchup. Evident on Silveira and Dubavets' end were consistency as they repeated their previous match's outcome with an 8-4 victory to start day three.
A few short hours later, UCSB's pair were back on the court to take on UCLA's Ayan Broomfield and Terri Fleming. It was an intense clash between the Gaucho and Bruin duos as they both vied to advance. Managing to persevere for the win were Da Silveira and Dubavets with an 8-6 victory.
Aside from the winning pair, UCSB had no other players participate in singles or doubles main draws flights, yet still found success within its series of consolation matches – winning both of its doubles matchups and four of its seven singles.
Despite playing in the consolation bracket due to losing in the tournament's first two days, Thibodeau is proud of his team's confidence throughout weekend.
"It was different for Natalie and Palina because they didn't play as well as they wanted in singles, and that's maybe because they didn't compete that much during the summer. But, to get these wins and momentum in doubles play really helped. Everyone's ability to bounce back today with good spirits was significant as they each stepped it up and had better composure on this last day."
Following the winning trend of Da Silveira and Dubavets in doubles play were Lise Sentenac and Stephanie Yamada. The freshman-junior tandem had a bout against Hawaii's Taylor Lau and Nikola Dolakova, defeating the Rainbow Wahine players 8-5.
Santa Barbara's involvement in the extra doubles matches also included Elizaveta Volodko and Amit Lev Ari, who beat another Hawaii pair consisting of Klara Pribylova and Alzbeta Houbova with an 8-3 win.
All three of UCSB's doubles victories were foretelling of its ability to compete at a high level in the consolation singles field as well.
With semifinal appearances already captured, both Da Silveira and Dubavets competed in consolation matches. Emerging for an 8-6 victory was Da Silveira, as she was able to overcome USC'S Alexa Corcoleotes.
The winning trend continued with Dubavets, who managed to defeat Loyola Marymount's Camila Tumosa with an 8-2 finish.
Adding to the Gauchos' strong stretch was Yamada in her matchup against Hawaii's Taylor Lau. Yamada kept her foot on the pedal, winning in consecutive sets 6-4; 6-2.
Still, there were some shortcomings during UCSB's day three performance. This included the first-year Volodko enduring a 6-1; 6-4 loss to USC's Gabby Smith. Santa Barbara's slate of consolation singles continued with Sentenac taking on UCLA's Fleming, who was able to notch a 6-2; 6-3 win over UCSB's freshman.
Ending UC Santa Barbara's day at the ITA Southwest Regionals was Lev Ari's meeting with Cal State Fullerton's Sarah Nuno. The competition reached its peak in the matchup as it went to three sets, including two tiebreaker finishes. When all was said and done, it was Nuno who prevailed for the win in a match that ended 7-6(4); 1-6; 11-9.
Although the Gauchos ended the tournament with no players remaining in the singles main draws, Da Silveira and Dubavets' prosperity within doubles play gives UCSB an opportunity to win its first main draws final of the fall season.
Da Silveira and Dubavets will take on LMU's Veronika Miroshnichenko and Eva Voracek at 10 a.m. this Sunday, Oct. 22, while the remainder of UCSB's team has traveled back to Santa Barbara.