The No. 14 Cal men’s tennis team defeated No. 22 Texas Tech in a close 4-3 match in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Hellman Tennis Complex on Sunday, advancing to the round of 16.
Cal (14-11) narrowly qualified to host the first two rounds of NCAAs as a top-16 team. Following a disappointing Pac-12 Championship run, the Bears burst out of the gates against their first two opponents.
The Bears carried their success from their first round win into their Mother’s Day’s game against Texas Tech. The Red Raiders surrendered the doubles point in quick fashion, led by a powerful freshman tandem. Cal’s Gregory Bayane and Andrew Scholnick began with an 8-4 win over Gabriel Wanderley and Francisco Zambon. Moments later, Ben McLachlan and Carlos Cueto defeated Rafael Garcia and Vitor Manzini by the same score.
The Raiders (16-9), however, were much more resilient in singles play. Raony Carvalho and Manzini defeated Nick Andrews and Bayane respectively, giving Texas Tech a 2-1 advantage over the Bears.
The lead was fickle though, as Christoffer Konigsfeldt brought the Bears back to a tie, only to lose it when Raphael Pfister defeated redshirt freshman Chase Melton 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Trailing 3-2, the Bears were treading dangerously into upset territory. Down 4-2 on his third set, Riki McLachlan held the Bears’ season in his hands.
But the junior did not falter under pressure. McLachlan roared back and did not surrender another point, tying the score for the Bears with his 6-0, 4-6, 6-4 win over Zambon.
On the top court, Ben McLachlan ensured his brother’s efforts would not go to waste. Holding a 2-0 third set lead, he exchanged points until taking the game to 5-2. Up 40-0 on the match point, Ben McLachlan allowed Gonzalo Escobar to reach deuce point, but a double fault and swift cross-court return later, Ben McLachlan had taken his 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory.
The Bears also took down the University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA) on Saturday 4-0.
Singles play proved fruitful for Cal. Bayane and Melton overpowered their opponents, surrendering only four points among their four total sets. McLachlan ended the day in celebration with his 6-0, 6-4 decision over Yannick Junger.
The two wins push the Bears into the third round for the second consecutive season. They will face No. 2 Virginia, who was the 2011 NCAA Championship runner-up.