With only one regular season match under its belt, the Cal men’s tennis team will have to quickly prepare itself to face considerable competition over ITA Kick-Off Weekend.
Beginning with a contest against LSU (1-0) on Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Hellman Tennis Complex, the Bears enter a small tournament with large implications.
During ITA Kick-Off Weekend, 16 mini-tournaments will be held across the country. Only four teams will compete in each of these tournaments, which will last two days. The winner of the group of four teams earns the right to attend the ITA National Team Indoors held in Virginia next month.
For the Bears, the chance to compete in the National Team Indoors could be a great warm-up for the NCAA Championships later in the spring, especially considering that the team hasn’t received a berth in the National Team Indoors in recent years.
Ending their 2011 season in the top-16 teams, the Bears have earned the right to be hosts of this event. In addition to LSU, Minnesota and University of San Diego will be coming to Berkeley this weekend.
ITA Kick-Off weekend is a homecoming of sorts for the Bears, who sojourned to Tulsa nearly two weeks ago for what became a down-to-the-wire match. After Cal swept the doubles matches, it fought the Golden Hurricane across five singles matches before finally clinching the contest, 4-3.
However, since then the Bears have not participated in any competitive matches. This past weekend, the team originally planned to play its first home match of the season against UC Davis. However, the match was canceled due to inclement weather, with no plans to reschedule as of yet.
Not having played any matches at home thus far in the season could contribute negatively to Cal’s performance, but the team seems unfazed.
“We would have loved to play the Davis match, but we are having a good week of practice, and we had the Tulsa match prior to that,” Wright said.
“These won’t be our first matches of the year so from that standpoint I think we are on our way to being prepared to play.”
The LSU Tigers have had a bit more time to ease into the spring season than the Bears have. They will be entering the match after participating in the three-day Key Biscayne Invitational and defeating Rice in a dual matchup last weekend.
If the Bears defeat LSU on Sunday, they will move on to play the winner of the Minnesota-USD match on Monday at 1 p.m. Conversely, if the host loses, it will partake in a consolation match.
“We still have a couple more things to work out the rest of the week, but in general I think we are prepared to really get some top class competition having Minnesota and LSU and San Diego here,” said Wright.