Two similarities between last weekends’ Cal Nike Invitational and this week’s ITA All American Championships are that (a) there will be tennis played and (b) Jana Juricova is the favorite to win. That’s where the commonalities end.
Four players on the Cal women’s tennis team will travel to the Riviera Tennis Club in Los Angeles for their first test of the season. Seventeen of the top 20 players in the country are scheduled to be in the main draw, and for the second straight year, Juricova comes in as the top seed.
“National tournaments are very competitive and the best players are there so I think every match will be very difficult,” Juricova said. “Every match can go for hours so you have to get mentally ready for that.”
Last year, Juricova suffered tennis’ version of double jeopardy, getting ousted by Hillary Barte of Stanford in the finals of the singles tournament, after losing to Barte (who graduated in the spring) and partner Mallory Burdette in the doubles semifinals.
This year, Juricova enters a wide-open doubles field with new partner Annet Schutting. The two won the championship last weekend in their first match experience, albeit against weaker competition.
“I think they made a lot of improvements this weekend,” coach Amanda Augustus said. “I think each match they got a little better and a little more comfortable.”
Tayler Davis and Annie Goransson will also play doubles together this weekend.The duo showed spots of brilliance last weekend, but faltered late in a match against Arizona State.
“It’s something they’ve been working for,” Augustus said. “I think they are right in there and so they need a breakthrough win to continue to boost their confidence.”
The Davis-Goransson tandem will have an opportunity to get that confidence-boosting upset win, as the two will be underdogs throughout the week. They’ll need to win three matches to advance to the main draw, where Juricova and Schutting are seeded No. 13.
Juricova believes that she and her partner made great strides this weekend, and are poised to do well in L.A.
“I’m pretty confident with how we play and what we can do,” she said. “The level of competition is very high but I think if we can play our best game, have a good game plan and execute well, we can go pretty far.”
Both Davis and Goransson are in the qualifying singles bracket, where they must win three matches to advance to the main draw. Davis matches up against Caroline Lilley of Georgia Tech in the first round, while Goransson will play South Carolina’s Dijana Stojic. Despite the fact that both Cal players are ranked higher than their first round opponents, winning three matches will be a challenge.
Repeating the results of last weekend’s home tournament will be nearly impossible for the team, as the opponents in the All-American Championships will be exponentially better. Despite this sea change, one thing will remain the same: Juricova is expected to come out on top.