Bears set to back up ranking at home

The Cal men’s tennis team is ranked No. 14 in the nation. At the end of last season, the team finished No. 14, and as a result, the Bears assumed that position to start this season.

But this is not a squad obsessed with numbers. Ranking is one of the last things on Cal’s mind.

Right now, the team is focusing on playing its first home match of the season on Sunday at 10 a.m. versus UC Davis at the Hellman Tennis Complex.

“This match is to get the guys ready for playing at home. We have a couple freshmen on our team who haven’t played a match at Hellman (Tennis Center) yet.”

Several issues may face the Bears (1-0) in this upcoming match. They have not battled the Aggies as a team in quite some time, so they cannot be certain what to expect. Also, coming off of a long winter break devoid of serious matches may make it difficult for Cal to ease back into competition and prove it is worthy of its rank.

But the team does not expect these factors to affect its play.

“I think the match in Tulsa was really good for preparation,” junior Riki McLachlan said. “We played really well down there, so it put us in really good step, I think, for the rest of the year.”

Last week’s match at Tulsa, which the Bears won, 4-3, allowed the team to start off the season with an exciting win. However, while Cal was in Tulsa, it only played on indoor courts. Now that the Bears have returned home, they are forced to use outdoor courts once again — and face the unpredictable Berkeley weather.

“We’ve been playing indoors for almost an entire week, but now we are out and the weather could be iffy on Sunday,” Wright said. “It could be windy. It could be a lot of things, so that will definitely be one of the challenges we face.”

On Sunday, several members of the Bears’ starting lineup may have to sit out due to NCAA rules that regulate how many matches a particular player can participate in. However, this gives younger, less experienced players who aren’t necessarily starters a chance to compete.

As in any sport, there are advantages to playing at home that the team is looking forward to for the first time this season.

“We all love playing at home. It’s cool because our friends and some of the guys’ families come out,” McLachlan said. “Playing at home is just comfortable. You get to sleep in your own bed, wake up, practice at your own court and stuff like that.”

Barring any difficult weather, Cal is ready to compete this weekend as it seeks to carry their winning momentum into their face-off with Davis before a difficult conference season begins.

“I think for us, we chose that in the schedule to give us an opportunity to play one match at home before we go into the rest of the season,” Wright said. “Davis is a good team, and it’s nice for us to get a match like that in before we get some really meaty competition.”