On Friday, the Bulldogs proved they weren’t just all bark and no bite. The No. 13 Cal men’s tennis team fell, 4-0, to No. 4 Georgia in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Charlottesville, Va. It was the Bears’ first trip to the ITA Indoor Championships since 2004.
The match was swiftly dominated by the Bulldogs (8-1), who carved out an early lead by clinching the doubles point. They pushed their lead to 2-0 after Ignacia Taboada beat junior Christoffer Konigsfeldt by a 6-3, 6-2 decision. Not long after, KU Singh beat sophomore Ben McLachlan in a 6-1, 6-4 decision to make it a 3-0 lead. Nathan Pasha finished the day by claiming a 7-5, 6-3 decision over senior Ahmed Ismail.
Either way, additional matches didn’t appear to help Cal (5-4). None of Cal’s singles players took a set until junior Carlos Cueto bested No. 3 Wil Spencer for the first set. By that time, however, Georgia had already claimed victory.
“Georgia came out and was really hot,” said Cal coach Peter Wright. “They had good frontrunners and got out ahead of us. We played the middle of the match well, but the start and end weren’t so good. They had some good players and were aggressive.”
Aggression seemed to be the key factor lacking in Cal’s play that day. According to Wright and senior captain Nick Andrews, the court surface was partly to blame. The Bears have not played in an indoor court tournament this year, and an inability to adjust made the game difficult.
Serving and first returns additionally proved to be difficult for the Bears. Several players mentioned that they found trouble getting into game speed and wanted more practice on the indoor courts for their next match.
Cueto, the only player to take a set in singles, noted the team’s issues with serving.
“We weren’t serving very well, and I was running around a lot,” Cueto said. “The other guys were down early, and I knew it was going to be pretty tough. In general for us, we didn’t serve particularly well indoors, and when you do that, you’re going to have some problems.”
The only other Bears to find success on Friday were the No. 4 doubles pair of Andrews and Konigsfeldt. Their match against the No. 7 team of Wil Spencer and Garrett Brasseaux was suspended at 5-5 after Georgia clinched the doubles point.
“We started off getting broken in the first game, but we were getting back into it,” Andrews said. “It took us a while, but we were starting to gain momentum — we felt we had a great chance to win that match.”
Georgia proceeded to a 4-2 victory over Florida but fell to the eventual champions USC in the semifinals round, 4-1. The Bears were placed into a consolation matchup with No. 12 Pepperdine, which Cal won 4-2. This set the Bears up with a rematch against No. 8 UCLA, which they lost 4-3. The Bruins had won earlier this year in a 4-3 contest in Berkeley.