The Cal women’s tennis team was looking for a hero to secure a win against Pepperdine on Saturday. It found two.
Tayler Davis and Anett Schutting notched gritty comeback wins in a match that was not expected to be a major test for the No. 7 Bears, yet became a hard-earned 5-2 victory. Cal (7-4) ran out to a 3-0 lead quickly at the Hellman Tennis Complex before the persistent Waves (5-4) took the lead in the remaining four singles matches.
Cal’s first point came in a dominating doubles performance. Playing without star Jana Juricova, the Bears did not trail in any of their three doubles matchups, a role reversal from an 0-3 doubles performance the group posted on Friday against Stanford.
Things looked to be rolling smoothly in singles, as Zsofi Susanyi and Annie Goransson both posted big wins on courts one and four, respectively. Coming off a straight-set win the day before, Goransson has won 17 of her last 18 singles games.
Cal’s safe position soon proved untenable, as No. 24 Pepperdine won the first set in four other singles matches. The Waves took matches on both the fifth and the sixth singles court, which have become thorns in the Bears’ side; players on those courts are just 1-9 in their previous four matches.
“I think (Pepperdine) is dangerous because they’re not super flashy, but they keep grinding,” said coach Amanda Augustus. “You have to really beat them, because they’re not going to give up and hand it to you.”
Davis and Schutting found themselves playing their third set next to each other, on courts two and three. If both of them fell in the decisive frame, Cal would have its first five-game losing streak of the millennium.
The team was on the brink of despair multiple times but somehow kept coming up with points. With the game standing 5-4 in favor of Pepperdine, Davis was down 40-0, yet she continued to fight through five match points to force another game. The San Jose native found her game with the score 5-5, and closed the door on Pepperdine’s Khunpak Issara with a 7-5 victory.
At the same time, Schutting was at the brink of falling to Lorraine Guillermo, who fought back the roars of the home crowd on multiple occasions. In the middle of their match-deciding tiebreak, Davis secured the Cal victory, lifting a weight off Schutting’s shoulders. Soon after, however, Schutting won the tiebreak, 7-5, finishing on a gorgeous forehand crosscourt winner.
“She knew she was mentally not going to give up,” Augustus said.