The score didn’t reflect the whole story on Saturday when UC Santa Cruz women’s tennis team fell to La Verne 9-0 in the season opener. After an offseason without a head coach, new head coach Amy Jensen and the Slugs are focusing on their strengths as they head into a new season.
The women’s tennis team was left out of the conference championships in 2015 after 2014-15 head coach Mary Ryniewicz resigned last spring. Sophomore captains Zoe Brook and Sylvia Brummitt anticipate Jensen will fill the void for this upcoming season.
“Prior to Amy, we struggled to find organization and consistency,” Brummitt said. “Everything was hard, from scheduling to having a basic practice plan. Even with two captains and sharing the men’s coach, there was no individual force that kept driving us forward.”
Last season Jensen was the head coach at Mills College, a common Division III competitor for UCSC teams. As a collegiate player at UC Berkeley, she was a five-time All-American, winning three consecutive NCAA doubles titles. She later competed in the US Open, holding Women’s Tennis Association professional rankings in singles and doubles.
“It is going to be exciting for student-athletes here because Amy brings a lot of success and experiences here,” said Cliff Dochterman, UCSC’s athletic director.
After retiring from tour, Jensen started coaching Division I teams like UC Berkeley and University of Denver, then found promise in Division III tennis.
“In Division I, players are highly motivated by their scholarships,” Jensen said. “Division III attracts me because athletes want to play simply because they love the game. UCSC has won many national titles in the past and I believe we can get back there.”
Jensen’s first coaching appearance kicked off with doubles play against a strong La Verne lineup. La Verne earned the first doubles point in No. 3 doubles with a 8-0 score against UCSC’s Ashley Brudzinski and Melanie Waechtler.
In No. 1 doubles, Sylvia Brummitt and Islay Fossett lead a convincing battle against La Verne’s top doubles seed. During a decisive game point at 4-4, Fossett ripped a backhand winner cross court to make it 5-4. However, La Verne’s Bridget Etchegaray and Savanah Goode fought back and utilized their strong net game to go on the offense.
The Slug’s No 1. doubles team continued to play on the defense, but came up with several winners to push the score to 7-8. In the end, La Verne’s No. 1 doubles team prevailed through 9-7. The deciding factor of the match was the number of double faults and unforced errors, which was the area the Slugs struggled in.
“We focused too much on the errors when we should have been thinking about the current point,” Jensen said.
La Verne was up 3-0 overall coming into singles play. They clinched the overall match after No 3. Janae Chinn beat Zoe Brook 6-1, 6-0 while other matches went in favor of La Verne. However, the Slugs put up a fight during No 1. and No. 6 singles where UCSC’s Brummitt and Amy Leslie took the opening sets in their matches.
On court 1, the Slugs’ Brummitt put constant pressure on La Verne’s top seed with deep groundstrokes, pushing back Etchegaray on the defensive. It was a tight set, but Brummitt won the decisive tiebreaker to seal the first set 7-6. However, La Verne’s Etchegaray came back strong and won the second set in a mere 20 minutes. She would later go on and win the third set tiebreaker to seal the match.
Leslie at No 6. singles battled to win the first set 7-6. But later in the third set tiebreaker, she would struggle to convert match points, which La Verne’s Savannah Fisher would capitalize on to win the match and complete the overall match standing against UCSC 9-0.
“Both girls fought for every point,” Brummitt said. “Both teams gathered to cheer and support. It was a great moment for freshman Amy Leslie.”
Despite the loss, Jensen and the captains commended the players for their positivity and composure throughout the matches.
“Every player walked out onto the court with a great attitude, every player cheered for all the others and every player gave a huge individual effort,” Brummitt said. “We will only get better, but this match was setting the bar at a good height.”