The Cal women’s tennis team started off the new year with a tyrannizing performance in this weekend’s Cal Winter Invitational.
The Invitational, played in the friendly confines of the Hellman Tennis Complex, was an unadulterated massacre as the No. 8 Bears overmatched Cal Poly, Fresno State and Saint Mary’s over three days. Cal players posted a 33-1 overall mark in the round-robin tournament, including a 10-0 record in doubles matches.
The Friday through Sunday tournament was scheduled to emulate the upcoming dual season, and the Bears seem to have a leg up on the out-of-conference opponents that made the trip to Berkeley. Had the event been scored as in the dual season, the three regional opponents would have each been blanked by Cal, 7-0. These results are somewhat mitigated by the fact that all three opponents are unranked, and the weekend’s dominance may be a mere opuscule compared to the daunting Pac-12 schedule that the Bears face.
Senior Jana Juricova played in the top singles court for Cal and dropped only one set en route to a three-win weekend. Juricova entered the fall season as the top-ranked player in the country but slipped to No. 5 in the most recent rankings after going only 2-3 against top-25 opponents.
Although eight of nine Bears were undefeated in singles matches, freshman Sofie Susanyi, who skyrocketed to No. 21 in the country, perhaps impressed most. Susanyi won all three of her matches in straight sets and has now won nine consecutive singles matches to improve her record to 16-2.
Susanyi’s success is far from unexpected, as she cultivated a top juniors ranking overseas, highlighted by a run to the quarterfinals at Junior Wimbledon in 2009.
“She’s a very competitive player who thrives in match play,” said coach Amanda Augustus.
Augustus likened Susanyi to former Cal standout Mari Andersson, who won the 2009 NCAA doubles championship with Juricova. The fifth-year head coach has paired Susanyi and Juricova on the doubles court, where the freshman’s fervency compliments the senior’s calm demeanor.
Together, Juricova and Susanyi won twice over the weekend but could not match the same level of success as Cal’s longest-established doubles tandem; junior Annie Goransson and sophomore Anett Schutting were not challenged in three matches and are now 9-1 on the year. These were the first signs of amalgamation from the Bears’ doubles lineups, which were in flux for most of the fall.
The weekend evinced the Bears’ improved depth, as the four other players who figure to play in Cal’s dual season did not drop a set in 12 singles matches. Freshman Cecilia Estlander lost only seven games in three singles victories, and the team’s nine players only dropped four sets over three days.
“I think they have gelled as a team much earlier than other teams,” Augustus said. “Depth is going to help us win those close matches against other schools. The deeper we are, the more likely we will be able to prevail in the close team matches.”