Bears have history on their side for weekend tilts

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If history is any guide for the future, the Cal women’s tennis team is sitting pretty.

This weekend, the No. 10 Bears (11-4, 4-0 in the Pac-12) will play home matches against Sacramento State and Washington State, who have combined for a 0-10 record against Cal over the last five years.

After embarking on what coach Amanda Augustus called “the grand tour of the Pac-12,” the Bears will begin a seven-match spate in Berkeley after the team captured four wins in four different states.

Friday’s 1:30 p.m. match against Sacramento State (9-8) will likely be Cal’s first match with a full lineup in more than a month. No. 6 Jana Juricova returned last weekend after missing six matches, just in time to see junior Tayler Davis get pulled with a sprained foot. Davis is expected to be back in action this weekend.

“Every season something comes up – you never know when, you never know who, and you never know what it’s going to be,” Augustus said. “(The team has) really learned how strong and deep they are as a group, fighting through adversity.”

Although the Bears have beaten the Hornets each of the last five years, Sacramento State’s strong doubles pairings gave Cal fits in fall tournaments. In October, Clarisse Baca and Maria Meliuk ousted Juricova and freshmen Zsofi Susanyi in the semifinals of the ITA Northwest Regionals, one of Sacramento State’s four doubles wins over the Bears on the year.

“I’ll be interested to see that rematch,” Augustus said. “I think it will be a good first test for us back at home.”

Another team with an ignominious past against Cal is Washington State, who visits for a Saturday match, starting at noon. Although the Cougars (12-4, 2-2) have been slain by the Bears in their last eight meetings, there is no doubt that this Wazzou squad has put forth a solid body of work.

After beginning the season with seven consecutive 7-0 victories over regional opponents, the Cougars lost four of six. However, Washington State just wrapped up a historic weekend, upsetting top-30 schools Arizona and Arizona State – the win over the Sun Devils was the first in school history. Top singles player Liudmila Vasilieva has posted a 27-3 record on the year, and senior Elizabeth Fournier is the reigning Pac-12 player of the week.

“Whenever they come play us, there is no pressure on them, and they come out swinging,” Augustus said. “We won’t take that match lightly.”

The Pac-12 schedule that Cal received worked greatly to its advantage. The Bears have four home matches against unranked opponents to prepare for an April 13 home matchup against No. 1 UCLA, followed the next day by a dual with No. 3 USC. The team won’t travel far in the regular season again, as its only remaining road match is at No. 4 Stanford on the final weekend of the season.

“We want to make this push and build up to those matches,” Augustus said.

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