Tennis team drops regular season finale
Senior Day saw seniors Monika Van de Vondel and Skyla Alcon play their final home matches at CSUN, the women’s tennis team fell 5-2 to regular season conference champions UC Santa Barbara on Friday at Matador Tennis Complex.
The day started off on a poor note with the Gauchos taking the doubles point after the pair of freshmen Jolene Coetzee and Ana Fraile Toboso lost 6-1 before junior Emma Roenholt and freshman Sibel Demirbaga lost their match 6-2. The senior pair of Van de Vondel and Alcon had the upper hand in their match with a 4-3 lead, though it wouldn’t matter as the Gauchos had already secured two of the three doubles wins.
“I was really proud of how Moni and Sky performed and won doubles,” head coach Gary Victor said. “Being up 4-3 when we stopped is a really good sign and they handled the pressure really well.”
With the Gauchos already out in front, the Matadors came out flat at the start of singles play, with everyone but Fraile Toboso losing the first set in their matches, and though the team put up a better fight during the second sets, the top ranked Gauchos were too much in the end.
“I think that some of the freshmen may have come out either overhyped or intimidated,” Victor said. “Also, credit to UCSB, they’re the No. 1 team in the conference for a reason. They’re a great tennis team.”
Van de Vondel was the first to fall on court one as she lost 6-0, 6-3, ultimately getting outclassed by Gaucho junior Lev Ari, who improved to 8-1 in her last 10 matches while Van de Vondel dropped to 1-7 in her final go-around in Big West conference play.
Coetzee was the next to finish on court two, and though she has held her own for the most part throughout her freshman campaign, she too was swept, losing 6-2, 6-3 to fall to 3-4 in conference play.
Alcon, playing on court three, also lost in straight sets, losing 6-1, 6-2, before Roenholt was swept 6-1, 4-6 as the Gauchos confirmed the victory on the day and clinched the top seed in the Big West going into the conference tournament.
With nothing left to play for, the Matadors won the final two singles matches to gain a couple of consolation points. Demirbaga came back from losing the first set to win the second set and force a tiebreaker, which she won in thrilling fashion, going to multiple sudden death points and ultimately winning 11-9 on court five. Fraile Toboso was the last to finish, losing the second set after winning the first, before winning her tiebreaker 7-5 on court four.
“Ana, in singles, I would say got off to a good start,” Victor said. “But just about everybody else got off to a slow, slow start. And against a good team, I’m proud of how our second sets were better throughout and we got more into the match(es) but I think we dug ourselves too big a hole to get out of.”
With the loss in their regular season finale, the Matadors fell to 14-5 overall and 3-5 in Big West action and have been confirmed as the fifth seed going into the conference tournament, where they will play Cal State Fullerton on Friday, April 26 at 11:30 a.m. in Indian Wells.
Though their record in conference play has not been as good as they would hope, CSUN did end up finishing 11-0 in non-conference play, an impressive feat that Victor does not wish to forget and though their conference record wasn’t what they hoped it would be, he believes that the challenges his team, one of the youngest in the Big West, has faced can help them going into the tournament.
Alcon concurred with her coach, noting that much of what the Matadors were able to do this year was because of the impressive group of freshmen that Victor has assembled, making her feel more secure about their chances in Indian Wells.
“I feel like it’s so easy with this team we have because everybody’s fighting their butts off,” Alcon said. “You never have to worry about motivation or fight or giving energy.”