For Anett Schutting of Cal women’s tennis, leading the Bears to their first conference title was a fitting end to her illustrious career at Cal. But if the team is to have any chance at defending its title, it will have to find a worthy player to replace her in the singles and doubles lineups.
“Everyone on this team is going to be remembered as the team that won Cal’s first Pac-12 title,” said head coach Amanda Augustus.
Arguably the best singles and doubles player on the roster, Schutting boasts a proven track record of success in her three-and-a-half years on the team. She finished the 2012-13 season at No. 10 in the ITA rankings, notching a 34-13 overall record with an 11-5 record on the top court. Entering this season at No. 5, Schutting went 28-13 overall, going a perfect 8-0 in conference play sharing time between courts two and three.
Playing a major part in Cal’s historic run this season, Schutting will be sorely missed in doubles and singles play. Alongside Lynn Chi, the duo went 5-2 in Pac-12 dual match play. With Schutting’s departure, Augustus will be hard-pressed to find a suitable doubles partner for Chi. As both Chi and Schutting play an extremely methodical style of play, the pairing found great chemistry on the court.
“I think it’s definitely going to have an effect on the dynamics of the team,” said Alice Duranteau. “She was such a huge part of our team, and she acted like such a leader on the tennis court. That’s going to be hard to adjust for, but I have no doubt the team will be able to do it.”
Augustus’ best option is to keep Denise Starr and Maegan Manasse together as they surprisingly played well together despite both boasting aggressive playing styles. Come next fall, Klara Fabikova will most likely be playing alongside Chi on court one or two doubles.
Replacing a player as individually strong as Schutting will be difficult, as each player on the last three courts will have to move up at least one spot. Schutting spent the majority of conference play on court three, where she went undefeated. Replacing her on court three shouldn’t be a problem as Cal boasts three incredibly talented singles players in Starr, Chi and Zsofi Susanyi.
“She had a very aggressive game style, and she had the potential to beat literally all of the girls in the nation, so I think it was important to have someone on top of the courts like that who is very aggressive with a powerful game,” Duranteau said. “That’s definitely one piece that they’ll miss from her, but it is kind of the game style we like to develop here — being aggressive, knowing how to take chances and being a smart and tough competitor.”
With Fabikova and Manasse most likely moving to courts four and five, respectively, the problem is finding a suitable player for court six. But with one of the best coaches in collegiate women’s tennis in Augustus — who was recently awarded Pac-12 Coach of the Year — the program should be able to adjust and develop a new recruit or a player already on the roster.
“We have a great team,” Schutting said. “The freshmen that are going to be sophomores had a really great year, and they’re only getting better now that they have experience. I think they’re going to do great.”
Off the court, Schutting’s leadership and attitude will be sorely missed. But Augustus plans to have Schutting return in an assistant coaching role as she will be finishing school next year.
“I’ll help out the team in practices or help coach the matches, whatever they need,” Schutting said. “I’ll be around the team, and I’ll help out as much as I can.”
Winston Cho is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].