Jana Juricova stumbled out of the gate in her first national event, and the Cal women’s tennis team had mixed results in its first trip away from home at the ITA/Riviera All-American Championships in Los Angeles.
The top-ranked Juricova fell to No.11 Jacqueline Cako of Arizona State in the quarterfinals of the singles tournament. This was Juricova’s first loss since May 20, when Cal was eliminated from the NCAA team championships.
Throughout the tournament, Juricova was not on her peak performance. It took her three sets to discard her opponents in both the first and second round, unusual for a player who hadn’t dropped a set this season.
“She was off on a few shots, and she really struggled her way through matches, trying to find her form,” Cal coach Amanda Augustus said. “In the quarterfinal match she was setting up her points the way she wanted to, but she lost a couple points here and there, and it caught up to her.”
In the match against Cako, Juricova lost tiebreaks in consecutive sets, belying the one-sidedness of the straight-set decision. The loss was also Juricova’s second contest of the day, and while her physical game looked to be in top form, getting mentally prepared for two difficult matches proved too tough a challenge for the Cal star.
The other Bears in the singles tournament – Tayler Davis and Annie Goransson – also played in tiebreak games in the tournament, a relative rarity which presented a unique strategic situation.
“It’s really important that you take chances in tiebreaks,” Augustus said. “That’s usually the difference – someone that’s willing to come to the net or hit an aggressive transition shot.”
Although Davis won her tiebreak game to top Caroline Lilley of Georgia Tech, she was victimized later in the day by much-hyped freshman Robin Anderson of UCLA, 6-3, 6-3.
Anderson stole the show in her first collegiate event, winning six straight matches before being beaten to eventual champion and second-ranked player Allie Will of Florida in the semifinals.
Goransson lost in the first round to Dijana Stojic of South Carolina 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (3), but succeeded in the back-draw of the qualifying bracket, winning two matches.
“I saw a lot of good things with them,” Augustus said, referring to Davis and Goransson. “Singles-wise they have to take what it is they need to work on, and they’ll have the rest of the year to earn opportunities.”
The team also faces questions about doubles partners, as Cal’s two top duos (Juricova and Annet Schutting; Davis and Goransson) went a combined 1-3, albeit against difficult competition. Although the team has played just two tournaments, Augustus says that the doubles teams will be altered in an attempt to stabilize partners before duals season.
Augustus referred to this tournament as an opportunity to analyze the teams standing against the rest of the national tennis landscape, and the 2-4 record that Bears put up against Pac-12 opponents could be a worrying sign for squad. Although the outcome of this event was far from ideal for Juricova and her teammates, the season is still in its nascensy and multiple national events are yet to be decided.