Bears to face local opponents in St. Mary’s Classic

Most of the Cal men’s tennis team will be wrapping up the fall season with a final tournament this weekend before entering a period of no competition. For a select few team members however, preseason play will not end until next weekend.

While part of the team will end the fall campaign in nearby Moraga, Calif. for the St. Mary’s Gael Classic, four of the Bears’ frontrunners will be preparing for the prestigious ITA National Indoor Championships.

While their teammates practice for the New York tournament, five Bears will see game action this weekend at the Classic at Timothy Korth Tennis Complex. The event is similar to the majority of the fall invitationals that the Bears have competed in thus far – aside from the fact that mostly local schools will be participating. A few of these teams include University of the Pacific, San Francisco and Santa Clara. UCLA and UC Irvine will be making the longest treks to the tournament from SoCal.

Last year, Cal only sent two players to this tournament: now sophomore Ben McLachlan and the since graduated Bozhidar Katsarov. Both of the Bears advanced to singles and doubles quarterfinals, but never had a chance to go any further because the remainder of the tournament was canceled due to inclement weather.

So it should not be particularly difficult to top last year’s showing.

The majority of this year’s Cal crew participating in the tournament are freshmen, with the exceptions of senior Tommie Murphy and junior Riki McLachlan.

Riki McLachlan is the top seed in the tournament, granting him a bye in the first round of play, which starts on Friday.

With fall nearing its close, the St. Mary’s Classic will be the last chance for these players to compete before heading into their approximately two month long break in between fall and spring seasons.

“The fall we use for development,”said coach Peter Wright.

But once the offseason begins, the game plan will change slightly.

“We will regroup and work on conditioning and then some of the areas that we feel need to be worked on individually with each guy to get them prepared for the spring,” Wright said.

The St. Mary’s Gael Classic, unlike the upcoming National Indoors, does not count toward determining the team’s rank for the spring season, when conference play officially starts. Therefore there is not a whole lot of pressure on the Bears’ squad to bring home first prize this weekend.

The Bears, though they surely have a shot at winning, are more concerned about their personal progression as players.

“We have a strong, competitive team so it’s a chance for them to show some of the things they have worked on and learned so far this fall,” Wright said.