Bears look to the future, even as Aztecs travel north

Freshman Cecilia Estlander is currently 15-5 overall in singles.
Ashley Chen/Staff
Freshman Cecilia Estlander is currently 15-5 overall in singles.

The phrase “one game at a time” has become a sports maxim, judging by the frequency with which it is uttered by coaches, players, pundits and prognosticators. Although it can be used as a clarion call against reverie, the phrase’s meaning has been reduced to mush, as its regularity places it on par with a verbal tic.

Regardless of its place in sports parlance, it would be fair to say that the Cal women’s tennis team is abandoning the “one game at a time” ideology, as the squad will likely be looking past Wednesday’s match at home against San Diego State. The No. 7 Bears are heavily favored against the unranked Aztecs (2-1) in a tussle that will go down at 1:30 at the Hellman Tennis Complex.

Looming large for Cal (3-0) is the upcoming ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Charlottesville, Va., which begins on Feb. 10. The tournament provides an initial glimpse at the top teams across the country and will be a crucial test for the Bears in their run for a team championship.

Wednesday, Cal will be finishing a stretch of four duals matches in eight days. Although the Bears have won all three previous matches handily, it has been the most intensive stretch of the season thus far.

“I think this will be a mini-test, because when we go to Indoors, we’ll have to play four matches in four days,” Augustus said. “I think these matches are really good practice, both emotionally and mentally.”

Junior Tayler Davis dismissed concerns about the team’s condition after the first arduous stretch.

“I think all the training we did in the fall — we did an unbelievable amount — really prepared us well,” Davis said after Cal beat Washington 5-2 on Sunday. “I feel like we could play tomorrow and the next day and still be fine.”

San Diego State has fallen to the Bears in each of the last three years and hasn’t mustered more than a point in any of those three meetings.

The Aztecs finished 15-10 last season, placing them third in the Mountain West Conference. The team had a streak of 11 wins in 12 matches yet topped out at No. 45 in the national rankings. Junior Julia Wais has been a bright spot thus far, as she has not dropped a set in three duals victories.

The Aztecs also return two doubles teams, including the tandem of sisters Roxanne and Sierra Ellison. However, the lack of singles’ depth may sound the death knell against a Bears team that boasts six singles players within the top 100.

The season does not get easier for the Bears after the Indoor Championship wraps up on Feb. 13. Of the team’s final 16 matches, 10 are against top-30 programs, including two contests with both No. 2 Stanford and No. 4 UCLA. So, while Cal will surely not forget about the present, the Bears should likely be excused from taking it one game at a time.

A previous version of this article identified the pictured player as Annie Gorannson. In fact, it was Cecilia Estlander.