This weekend, tennis powerhouses will collide as the Cal women’s tennis team hosts UCLA and USC at Hellman Tennis Complex.
In a clash of top-10 teams, the No. 7 Bears (3-2) will take on No. 2 UCLA at 1:30 p.m. on Friday. The next day, they will play No. 6 USC (7-1) at noon.
Last year, Cal went a combined 1-3 against the Bruins and Trojans in the regular season.
“These two games will set the tone for us,” head coach Amanda Augustus said.
Cal is led by sophomore Zsofi Susanyi, who was recently ranked co-No. 1 in singles nationally with USC’s Sabrina Santamaria. While a matchup on Saturday between those two players would have the attention of collegiate tennis, it may not happen.
The last time the Bears played the Trojans, Santamaria was on the second court to avoid Susanyi.
Whatever each team’s lineups are, there is a good chance that this matchup will come down to the wire. Last year, Cal lost each match against USC by only one point.
Cal played the Trojans earlier this season at the ITA National Women’s Indoor Championship on Feb 10, but lost 4-1. But in that game the Bears sorely missed one of their top freshmen, Klara Fabikova, to a nagging back injury.
“Klara is day-to-day but hopefully she plays this weekend.” said Augustus.
Fabikova also plays doubles with Susanyi, and the two have gone 3-1 when playing together. Her return might be the key to tipping the scales in favor of the Bears.
Against UCLA, Cal will have a chance at revenge. The last time the Bears played UCLA was during the NCAAs, where the then-No.1 Bruins knocked out the Bears in a 4-1 match.
This year, UCLA boasts six ranked singles players — two more than Cal. Their top player, sophomore Robin Anderson, is currently the No. 6 player in singles and a familiar face to Susanyi.
“We know what they do,” said Susanyi, “I’ve played against Robin Anderson a few times and am familiar with her.”
The last time Susanyi played Anderson was at the NCAA singles tournament last May where she defeated Anderson, 7-5, 6-4. She also beat USC’s Santamaria at the same tournament.
But it will take more than just the No. 1 player for Cal to beat UCLA and USC. With a history of close finishes between these teams, the Bears’ doubles play could prove crucial. Last year, Cal’s only victory against either of these teams came against UCLA in a 4-3 match where the Bears won the doubles point.
“Doubles will be very important to us,” Augustus said. “It’s tough to win 4 singles against those teams.
However winning the doubles may be difficult — Cal does not have a doubles team ranked in the top 25. UCLA and USC each have two.
Regardless of the final result, the two games should come down to the wire and will provide great entertainment.
“I am excited.” junior Anett Schutting said. “I expect good fights. And we have home court advantage.”
Riley McAtee covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected]