The UC Santa Cruz women’s tennis team emerged as the Great South Athletic Conference (GSAC) champions after defeating Salem College 5-0 and Agnes Scott College 5-2 last weekend. With the wins, the Slugs earned a playoff berth to the NCAA National Championships for the first time in two years.
“It was really exciting. There were three matches going on … everyone just ran over to [freshman Amy Leslie’s] court, just straight off their courts … it was awesome,” said sophomore captain Sylvia Brummitt.
Leslie clinched the winning match in her third set against Agnes Scott’s senior Magdalena Wimmler.
“Winning GSAC is what we’ve been talking about all season long … every single one of us came together,” sophomore Islay Fossett said, describing practice leading up to the tournament.
The team finished with a 3-9 record following last weekend’s tournament. Additionally, UCSC had four players named to the All-Conference team at the GSAC Championship Awards Banquet — Brummitt, Fossett, Leslie and Zoë Brook. Leslie was also awarded GSAC freshman of the year.
“Everyone on the team is a sophomore and freshman, so we face a lot of players who are a lot older than us and have more experience,” Brummitt said. “We’ve been keeping up pretty well, [but] the competition has been rough.”
Adding senior transfer Eva Buciek helped the young team, especially during the team’s tough schedule, said head coach Amy Jensen.
At the beginning of the year, men’s coach Mike Napoli coached the men’s and women’s teams. Jensen joined the program last December after spending last season as Mills College’s head coach and director of tennis.
Winning the GSAC championship gave the Slugs a spot at the NCAA regional tournament in Southern California in two weeks. Wins there could advance them to the NCAA national championships in Kalamazoo, Michigan on May 23.
“We have a distinct goal now, and this is prep. It’s going to be a lot of intense practices and really intense focusing,” Fossett said. “We know exactly what we need to accomplish.”