Bears leave Los Angeles with one set win

The No. 12 Cal’s men’s tennis team wasn’t expected to win both games this weekend. And the Trojans and Bruins proved why by dominating the Bears.

Cal (11-9, 4-2 in the Pac-12) traveled to Los Angeles and lost to No. 1 USC on Saturday, 6-1. They were also defeated by No. 6 UCLA on Saturday in a 7-0 shutout.

The Bears were expected to have another tight match against the Bruins (19-2, 5-0) this weekend at Los Angeles Tennis Center. Their previous two matchups ended in close 4-3 victories in favor of UCLA, one of which was decided in a third-set tiebreaker.
UCLA, however, was too fast and strong out of the gates. The Bruins swept in doubles, led by unranked Alex Brigham and Adrien Puget’s upset of Cal’s No. 3 duo of Nick Andrews and Christoffer Konigsfeldt. In singles, the Bruins did not allow any third sets, resulting in a clean 7-0 domination of the Bears.

“They played well today, and we came out a little flat,” said Cal coach Peter Wright. “There’s not much difference between us, but when one team comes out a little flat, that’s the result you get.”

The Bears entered Marks Stadium hoping to claim their first dual match victory over USC (25-0, 6-0) since 2006. Once again, however, the Southern California team proved too powerful.

The Trojans extended their impressive 45-dual match win streak, which extends back from early 2011, with a quick sweep of doubles. The No. 15 duo of Steve Johnson and Roberto Quiroz began the day by upsetting Andrews and Konigsfeldt with a decisive 8-3 win. Cal’s pair entered the weekend on an eight-match win streak but left winless against two lower-ranked teams.
“They came off to a great start, and we missed key shots on our serves,” Andrews said. “Their ranking doesn’t show how good (Johnson and Quiroz) really are, and they played great enough to beat us today.”

Andrews and No. 2 Johnson then took to the top singles court. Johnson, who holds his own remarkable 55-match singles win streak, kept his perfect season record with a 6-2, 6-2 victory.

Cal’s lone point would come shortly after as Ben McLachlan upset No. 20 Ray Sarmiento, 6-4, 6-2. McLachlan, the Bears’ singles win leader at 23-10, ended Sarmiento’s eight-singles match win streak.

Over the course of the weekend, McLachlan was the only player to take sets in singles or doubles. With No. 11 Stanford upcoming as the final regular season game, the Bears could be headed into the postseason on a three-match cold streak. Cal has already lost to the Cardinal this season in a crushing 6-1 defeat in Feb. 25. Nevertheless, McLachlan is confident that the team can and will bounce back.

“We know that these matches are a lot tougher than the last few, but our team is definitely capable of winning them,” McLachlan said. “We’re only playing good teams from here on into the postseason, so we have to step it up.”

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