QUICK HITS: Dons tennis stays on top

The year was 1981 and a Santa Barbara High girls tennis team coached by Lloyd Garrison started a streak that has lived on through six U.S. presidents.

Last week, Santa Barbara clinched its 29th straight Channel League championship, a remarkable feat considering this area has long produced many top-notch tennis players and they haven’t all played for the Dons.

ThreePicklesFreeSodaSure Santa Barbara has had its share of super standouts, but the cornerstone of this program has been the depth of its roster. Many of the team’s players have honed their court skills at places like Tennis Club of Santa Barbara and Knollwood, and they’ve developed their competitive edge by playing in junior tournaments.

Steve Geremia, who took over the program from Bruce Lofthus in 2005, has made it point to remind his players how special it is to play for the Dons.

He’s also made sure they’re well-prepared for the rigors of the CIF playoffs by scheduling matches against the best teams in California, including a matchup with the No. 1 team in Div. I, Dana Hills, in their regular season finale on Friday.

The Dons, who were runners-up in 2006, will be looking to bring home their first CIF team title since 2003. …

It doesn’t take a marketing campaign to pump up the UCSB-Cal Poly rivalry in women’s soccer. The programs have been going at it for Big West titles and NCAA tournament berths for the past 10 years. On Sunday, they’ll clash at Harder Stadium for the conference’s regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. Cal Poly (6-1-0) is on top of the table with 18 points while UCSB (5-1-1) is second with 16.

Cal Poly leads the all-time series 9-6-3, but the Gauchos have won three of the last four regular season meetings.  Both teams are undefeated at home in conference play this season.

Cal Poly broke the Gauchos’ hearts in 2000 in the regular-season finale for a NCAA berth. The Mustangs denied them during the Jen Borcich years (2002, 2003, 2004), but UCSB got some satisfaction in 2005, knocking the Mustangs out of the postseason with a 1-0 win.

Last season it eliminated the Mustangs on penalty kicks in the Big West semifinals and went on to win the title and the automatic NCAA berth.

Sunday’s match should be another great battle. …

This is why Santa Barbara is called Soccer Town, USA. UCSB is on course to break the modern-day men’s attendance record, says Soccer America. The Gauchos are averaging 4,836 fans per game. With one more regular-season date (Senior Night, Nov. 7 vs. UC Davis), possibly two Big West Tournament matches and an expected NCAA Tournament match, they should surpass the NCAA record of 3,629 fans a game set by New Mexico in 2005.

The unofficial record is held by Connecticut, which averaged 4,297 fans a game in 1982. UCSB has led the nation in average attendance the last two years.

The top four schools following the Gauchos on this year’s average attendance list are Connecticut (3,211), Maryland (3,085), Creighton (2,449) and Indiana (2,335). …

Twin Lakes Golf CourseGaucho soccer players Sam Hayden and David Walker received national honors for their performances in last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Cal State Fullerton. Hayden, a junior goalkeeper, was name to teams of the week by Soccer America and College Soccer News after posting his ninth shutout of the year and fifth in conference. The nine clean sheets ties him with Kyle Reynish (Real Salt Lake) for fourth on UCSB’s single-season list.

Walker was picked to the TopDrawSoccer.com Team of the Week for the second time this season. He scored a goal and assisted on Waid Ibrahim’s game-winner.

Ibrahim’s score was worthy of a goal-of-the-week award. It was first class. Taking a short diagonal feed from Walker, Ibrahim stepped on the accelerator and bolted through two Fullerton defenders before unleashing a hard, low shot past a stunned goalkeeper.

It was a jaw-dropping play because of the rate of speed in which it was accomplished. …

Dos Pueblos volleyball star Carly Wopat was honored as the ESPN RISE CalHiSports.com Girls State Athlete of the Week. She is the first Santa Barbara area athlete to receive an award from the high school sports publication. …

Remembering Henry: Laszlo Kiraly is organizing a tribute to beach volleyball legend Henry Bergman on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 1:30 p.m., at Cafe del Sol restaurant, 30 Los Patos Way.

Kiraly is the father of Karch Kiraly, the winningest beach volleyball player of all-time and a three-time Olympic gold medalist.

The memorial service will give Bergman’s long-time friends and admirers an opportunity to share stories and talk about about one of the greatest beach players of all time.

There also will be a T-shirt sale to raise funds for placing a bench on East Beach in Bergman’s honor.

Volleyball historian Bob Van Wagner will have some classic photos and old video of Bergman on display.

For more information, email Laszlo Kiraly or call him at 680-6139.