Bears falter on East Coast to Pepperdine and Duke

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A year ago, when Cal returned from its East Coast swing it was with two impressive wins. This time, it could only bring back a case of the Carolina blues.

The No. 8 Bears (7-7) traveled to Durham, N.C., this past weekend to play both No. 15 Pepperdine (8-6) and No. 5 Duke (11-2) in a weekend mini-tournament. It was the second leg of a three-year series – the Waves hosted last March, and the Bears are to host it in the next and final year.

The Bears were hoping to emulate their performance from last year, in which they swept both teams. On Friday, however, they fell to Pepperdine, 4-0, in Ambler Tennis Stadium. Their woes continued Saturday when they lost their dual match to Duke, 6-1.

Cal’s weekend began poorly, with Pepperdine pulling off a surprising and decisive upset. The Waves were quick to seize the doubles point, despite an impressive performance by Cal’s No. 5 duo of senior Nick Andrews and junior Christoffer Konigsfeldt. The Bears’ top team won its doubles match, 8-3, besting Pepperdine’s No. 4 duo of Alex Llompart and Finn Tearney.

Their efforts, however, could not slow down the Waves. Led by No. 18 Sebastian Fanselow, Pepperdine did not allow the Bears to take any sets on singles and thus sealed the dual match victory off the first three finishes. This marked Pepperdine’s second win over a top-10 team and its fifth consecutive win.

On Saturday, the Blue Devils proved equally difficult for the Bears. Just as in their match against Pepperdine, the Bears lost the doubles point and their first three singles matches. One of the few positive aspects of the match, as Coach Peter Wright noted, was the performance of Andrews and Konigsfeldt on doubles. They defeated Duke’s No. 15 pair of Henrique Cunha and Fred Saba, 8-6.

“I think one of the bright spots coming out of these two games was that our #1 doubles team knocked off two of the top teams in the country,” Wright said. “They’ve improved so much this season, and those two matches showed a lot of it.”

Perhaps the only other bright spot on Cal’s side was sophomore Ben McLachlan, who was the only player to notch a point in a 6-1, 6-4 decision over Raphael Hemmeler. By the time McLachlan finished, however, Duke had already claimed the dual match.

Among the rest of Cal’s players, only Riki McLachlan could take away a set in singles, eventually losing to Luke Marchese 3-6, 7-5, 10-7. Carlos Cueto, who had just returned from injuries, lost his first match since Feb. 19 to No. 19 Chris Mengel, 6-2, 6-2.

Cal is not often subject to quick defeats against both Pepperdine and Duke. The Bears recently defeated the Waves at the National Team Indoor Championships in February, 4-2, finishing strong after being tied, 2-2. Their matchup against the Blue Devils last year, which had three lead changes, ended in a close 4-3 victory.