Everyone loves to hear a good Cinderella story. You know that one about the underrated team that triumphs in the face of uncertainty? We hear it all the time. We are inspired by the underdogs of the world — the Seabiscuits and the Spartans.
However, the tale of the Cal men’s tennis team’s performance in Seattle this past weekend exemplifies none of these heartwarming situations. In fact, its showing at the Washington-hosted ITA Northwestern Regional Championships was quite the opposite.
Simply put, the Bears dominated.
For the second year in a row, a duo from Cal won the doubles final in the regional tournament. This year, the victors were sophomore Ben McLachlan and his teammate junior Carlos Cueto. They had to work for their win on Tuesday. The final match was a nail-biter, with the teams battling back and forth.
The game was forced into a tiebreaker. In the end, the duo triumphed, 10-8, over its opponents from Stanford, Walker Kehrer and Robert Stineman.
McLachlan also competed in the singles final but narrowly lost out in a three set defeat handed to him by Ryan Thacher of Stanford. Thacher was the top seed in the tournament and the No. 14 player in the nation.
In addition, Cal brought home the team trophy, accumulating the most overall wins of any school participating in the tournament.
If that’s not enough to convince you of the Bears’ domination, how about the fact that they had three teams in the doubles quarterfinals and three individuals in the singles quarterfinals?
It even reached the point where Cal had so many players advance that they were forced to face each other. Most notably, McLachlan and Cueto competed against another Bears’ doubles team of Nick Andrews and Andrew Scholnick in the doubles semifinal round. Andrews and Scholnick fell to their fellow Bears, 8-2.
“It’s never easy. It’s a challenge,” said coach Peter Wright. “Sometimes you don’t get the best quality tennis when guys play against their teammates. It’s like playing against your brother or sister; there’s a lot of emotion in there. But they handled it like professionals.”
Thanks to their win in the doubles final, McLachlan and Cueto qualified for the prestigious ITA National Indoor Collegiate Championships. There they will be joining Andrews and Christoffer Konigsfeldt who previously made the draw on the basis of their wins at the All-American Championships.
Having four players reach the Indoor Championships in New York is a great honor, since in recent years, the Bears have only been able to qualify up to two players. Therefore one could say they have doubled their success.
As the fall season is winding down, Cal is looking to do one thing, according to Wright.
“We want to finish strong in New York and this is a great time to do it,” he said.
If the Bears are able to carry their momentum from Regionals into the last couple weeks of fall, they may prove to be an unstoppable force at the upcoming St. Mary’s Classic and National Indoors.
After all, who wants to be the underdog when you can be the dominators?