After a lengthy preseason filled with a number of weekend tournaments, the moment of reckoning has finally arrived for the Cal men’s tennis team. The ultimate tournament which the Bears have been gearing up for all fall finally begins on Thursday and lasts through Sunday.
The tournament, the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, will take place at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center located in the Queens, New York neighborhood of Flushing.
The Billie Jean King Center is filled with history as it has been home to the US Open since 1978.
The National Indoor contest is the last tournament of the fall season, but more importantly but also features the most competitive field of any tournament thus far. In addition, the team’s performance helps determine its spring rank.
In the recent past, the Bears have only been able to secure spots for a total of two players in the National Indoors, but this year Cal will be sending four players. The two doubles teams of senior Nick Andrews and junior Christoffer Konigsfeldt qualified after winning the consolation doubles title at the ITA Men’s All American Championships held in Tulsa, Okla. about a month ago.
As predicted by coach Peter Wright, the team of Andrews and Konigsfeldt received one of the top seeds in the tournament. They are the fourth seed, which gives them a first round bye. They will be competing against Johan Backstrom and Jonas Lutjen of Ole Miss on Thursday morning.
Junior Carlos Cueto and sophomore Ben McLachlan qualified for Indoors by winning the doubles title at the ITA Northwest Regional Championships held two weeks ago in Seattle, Wash. The pair earned its berth after defeating a formidable duo from Stanford in an exciting final match that was forced into a tie-breaker. They will face Mississippi State’s Louis Cant and Malte Stropp in the first round.
Despite the fact that the first and second rounds are on Thursday, the foursome flew off to New York this past Tuesday so as to not be pressed for time and to allow the players to become adequately acquainted with the indoor courts. Seeing as Cal generally only practices on outdoor courts, the players may need some time to get accustomed to these new conditions — but only a little.
“It takes a little getting used to but it’s usually pretty easy to go from playing outside to playing inside because there’s no wind inside and there’s no sun inside,” Wright said. “Playing indoors tends to be faster tennis but it’s easier to play in than playing outside.”
Indoors is the culmination of the Bears’ efforts throughout preseason. The team appears to have been steadily improving over the past couple months, and Wright believes Cal is up for the challenge.
“They are ready to go,” he said.