The defending Big West Conference champion UC Irvine Women’s Golf team seems poised to defend their title.
Ranked 37th in the nation by Golfweek Magazine, the Anteaters figure to win the conference tournament this week at the Tijeras Creek Golf Club in Rancho Santa Margarita.
The team won tournaments in Penn State and Fresno State and also placed second in two other tournaments.
‘We have been playing pretty consistently as of late and I am really happy with the performances of the team,’ said UCI Head Coach Kelly Crawford.
The team is led by sophomores Selanee Henderson (one tournament win and three second-place finishes) and Jane Chin, as well as senior Angela Won (who joined Henderson on last year’s all-conference first team).
After the team’s strong season, Crawford is confident the Anteaters can capture the Big West championship and move on to bigger and better things as well.
‘I feel good about defending our conference championship next week. The team is playing well and working hard,’ she said.
‘My hope is that we enjoy our last few tournaments of the season, defend our conference championship and finish our season at the NCAA Championship in Ohio next month.’
Coming off a conference championship winning season in which they also lost two of their best players, the UC Irvine Men’s Tennis team struggled to find themselves this season, going 10-10 overall and 2-2 in Big West action.
Despite the average record, the team was still able to claim the No. 3 seed in the Big West conference tournament, setting them up for a date with No. 2-seeded Pacific this Saturday in the semifinals of the conference tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Though the team lost some ground in the standings this year, they’ve set themselves up nicely for a strong season next year.
‘I think next year these guys will rock since they will have just that one year more of experience under their belts,’ said UCI Head Coach Steve Clark. ‘All are coming back which is often a big boost for teams making the next step.’
While Clark sees the long-term advantages of having a young team, he does recognize what he lost this season.
‘Some inexperience crept in though,’ he said. ‘I pushed the learning curve as hard as possible. We did not play our best, not close, and lost the fight for the number one seed.’
The Anteaters have lost both matches against their likely semifinal and (if they advance) finals opponents—although a narrow 4-3 defeat at the hands of UC Santa Barbara gives them confidence should they advance to take on the No. 1 Gauchos in the championship match.
Despite the rough season, Clark feels his team has been battle-tested and should challenge for the title.
‘I know they can do it if they come together like never before and take care of the simple things on and off court,’ he said. ‘Ultimately it has to come from deep within the guys on the court. Not the coaches, not anyone else.’