On the same courts where the best professional tennis players in the world congregate to compete, Zsofi Susanyi will represent the Cal women’s tennis team at the USTA National Indoor Collegiate Championships in New York this weekend.
The National Indoor Collegiate Championships, considered the second of the three annual grand slams of college tennis, will begin on Thursday and end on Sunday at the famous Billie Jean King Tennis Center. The prestigious tournament marks the close of the fall tournament season.
Susanyi comes into the National Indoor Championships ranked No. 4 nationally and with a 10-2 fall season record. Recently, she advanced to the semifinals of the USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Championships in Stanford, Calif.
The top-ranked Cal player is included among a field featuring the victor of the Northwest Regional Championships, as well as 30 other top players from around the country. Each of these players are either regional tournament champions, All-American finalists, or at-large selections. Susanyi was selected as one of the nine at-large bids in the singles draw.
In a field as accomplished as the one that she will face in New York, Susanyi will have to approach each match this weekend as a potential challenge.
“You don’t want to look too far ahead in the draw because everyone there has earned their way there,” said head coach Amanda Augustus.
Susanyi, seeded No. 5, will face Maho Kowase of Georgia in the first round of the tournament. Though Kowase is unseeded, she is ranked No. 12 in the country. In the past, the Bears have faced Kowase in local tournaments, but Susanyi has never personally played the highly-ranked SEC conference player.
The coaching staff’s familiarity with Kowase has allowed them to develop a strategy against Kowase’s aggressive playing style.
“(Susanyi) moves really well on the court,” Augustus said. “I think against this first round opponent, she’s really going to have to vary the height and the speed and spin she puts on the ball.”
If Susanyi can advance past this first round, the next day will include two singles matches as players vie for a spot in the quarterfinals. Because of Susanyi’s defensive game, these matches could last for well-over two hours — making endurance an important factor in advancing farther in the tournament.
“For (Susanyi) it’s usually a function of court time. Hopefully she can work her way through her first match and not be out there for three hours,” Augustus said.
Last year, Susanyi had an impressive showing at the National Indoor Championships, where she advanced to the semifinal match as an unseeded player before falling to eventual tournament victor Robin Anderson of UCLA. Meanwhile, Susanyi’s teammate Annett Schutting lost in the final match against Anderson.
Though the Bears are not as well represented in this year’s tournament, Susanyi has the potential to repeat or exceed last year’s performance.
“She’s been working hard and hitting the ball better and better each tournament we’ve played this fall,” Augustus said.
Whether or not Susanyi can attain victory this weekend, her presence at the National Indoor Collegiate Championships will be the capstone of the fall season until the team moves forward with conference play in January.
Dani Coony covers women’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected].