Chris Goetz and Eli Scandalis couldn’t afford to get too caught up in the Senior Day celebration, as they knew they were only minutes away from facing off against the solid Foothill College Owls.
The ceremony only lasted a couple of minutes. As soon as the seniors were done, they smiled at the crowd and immediately ran to the other end of the court, jumped in the huddle, put their arms around their teammates and pumped everyone up for the match.
“It feels a little surreal,” Scandalis said. “It all went pretty fast, but the season is not done, so it hasn’t completely hit me yet. Thinking that I’m not going to play any more matches on this court is kind of weird.”
The area around the court was more packed than usual, as members from the women’s tennis team, along with friends and family of the players came out to honor the seniors. Diane Goetz, Chris Goetz’s mother, stood on the sideline holding a tray of cupcakes and a bouquet of flowers. Diane Goetz makes the 75-mile trek from Piedmont, Calif. nearly every match to watch her son play.
After the match, both seniors walked away from the courts for the last time, with their heads held high as UC Santa Cruz defeated Foothill College 7-2. Scandalis finished his home career with a bang, defeating his opponent in straight sets 6-1 and 6-4.
Goetz however did not win his last home singles match in such a convincing manner, narrowly escaping his opponent by a score of 7-5 and 6-4. Tied 5-5 in the first set, Goetz acknowledged the momentum shift that occurred after he broke his opponent’s serve and took a 6-5 lead.
“When I broke, it was a relief, but also a feeling of ‘I know I can do this.’ I just broke this guy, let’s get this set,” Goetz said.
The Slugs almost completely swept the Owls except for a loss in doubles by Scandalis and Goetz and one in singles by Max Littlejohn. Unfortunately the seniors weren’t able to get the win in their last home match together as a pair.
After the loss, the two reassured each other they would make up for it in singles — and they did. They showed thick skin and the ability to bounce back as they picked themselves up after their disappointing doubles loss and brought their individual A-games to get victories in singles.
Head coach Christian de Jesus had a few ideas in mind for why the team faced some difficulties at the beginning of the match.
“Today we got off to a very rough start,” De Jesus said. “This week was pretty difficult for us because of the strike and a lot of rain. We had only one day to practice, but we did a good job coming back.”
Goetz believes the younger players on the team are capable of having bright futures. He has faith in the first and second-year players, and sees no reason why the team should see any kind of drop off in play next year.
“After one year, a lot of the freshmen can even lead this team,” Goetz said. “I feel very good about what they’ve learned this year and what they’re able to do. I’m completely comfortable leaving [the team] in these guys’ hands.”
De Jesus seemed to be on the same wavelength as Goetz in his views on the underclassmen.
“I’m pretty confident that with the right training, the right commitment and the right tools, our players will step up for next year to fill those two new positions,” de Jesus said.
Although the seniors played their last match at home, the season isn’t quite over. They will play their remaining matches away against Westmont and rivals Cal Lutheran, then close out the season at the Ojai Valley Tournament.
“We still have two matches to go,” de Jesus said. “Sunday is going to be a huge game against Cal Lutheran. They are one of our rivals and I hope we come up with a win. We want to start the postseason with good momentum.”