The start of the season proffers the Sisyphean dream of perfection to all athletes; pushing aside context and history, the mind of the competitor strays from the bounds of rationality and wanders to thoughts of endless conquests without a single failure.
Wednesday afternoon in Santa Clara, Calif., where the Cal women’s tennis team and its Santa Clara adversaries did battle, the dreams of a spotless mark hovered, much like the cirrus clouds, which did little to temper the azure sky.
However, victory, that miserly mistress, would only succumb to the embrace of one side, and the losers would leave without a win to their name.
This time, the No. 8 Bears walloped the Broncos, 6-1, and the bleb of perfection, which had burst for Santa Clara after only one match, floated north along the Nimitz Freeway with the satisfied Cal players.
No. 5 Jana Juricova, playing on the top singles court for the Bears, won again. The win continued Juricova’s hot streak, as she is coming off a stretch in which she was named Pac-12 Player of the Week.
After an underwhelming fall that culminated with a tumble from the top spot in the national rankings, Juricova seems to have regained her form that led her to the 2011 NCAA singles championship.
“It’s a tricky thing to defend a title,” coach Amanda Augustus said. “Obviously she wants to do well in her senior year, but this year we are all focused on a team title.”
Cal’s doubles pairings were another point of concern coming into the match against the unranked Broncos.
This was the first duals match without Mari Andersson, who graduated in the spring. Andersson played on the second singles court for the Bears last season and was also Juricova’s partner on the doubles court.
Thus far this season, Juricova had been playing with Sofie Susanyi, but the freshman was sidelined for the first of two matches due to NCAA eligibility issues.
On Wednesday, some of those doubts were mitigated, as Cal won all three doubles matches. Juricova won with another Cal freshman, Cecilia Estlander.
“We still have work to do on our doubles,” Augustus said. “It’s good for the girls to compete to see where they are at.”
The match was originally scheduled for Friday afternoon in Berkeley, yet the skies were not friendly and rendered the courts unusable. The sides agreed to play the match Sunday morning, yet once again Mother Nature intervened, pushing the match three days later and 40 miles south.
The away match interrupted what would have been a stretch of more than three months without a contest on the road.
The next time the Bears travel, it will be to the prestigious ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Charlottesville, Va., which serve as a major checkpoint on any squad’s road to the title.
“Having an away match turned out to be a good thing,” Augustus said.