For the second weekend in a row, the Bears will be split up. This Friday, Cal will be sending a squad of four to the sixth-annual Battle of the Bay hosted by the University of San Francisco, and the remaining members of the team will be headed down south to Santa Barbara, California, for the UCSB Gaucho Classic.
“We only get four or five entries into San Francisco, and we like playing at that event, so we try to send a good squad to both events,” said head coach Peter Wright. “Unfortunately, we have to split our team to do that.”
The four-man unit that will be participating in the Battle of the Bay, held at the historic California Tennis Club in San Francisco, features sophomores Filip Bergevi and Andre Goransson, freshman Billy Griffith and senior Gregory Bayane. They’ll be up against nationally-ranked competitors such as Pac-12 rivals UCLA and USC in addition to a number of other schools from across the country.
The Gaucho Classic, conversely, will feature a field of more regional schools — from different parts of California — with the likes of UC Davis and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Historically, Cal has produced stellar results at each of these tournaments. In men’s singles last year, the finals were a matchup between two Bears: Goransson and then-senior Campbell Johnson. Despite being only a freshman, Goransson emerged victorious to clinch the singles title. This weekend, Goransson will have the opportunity to defend his crown and become repeat champion. In addition, both Bergevi and Bayane advanced to the quarterfinals last year, where they were both knocked out.
In doubles this weekend, Goransson and Bayane look poised to excel. Last week, Bayane and his normal doubles partner, senior Chase Melton, who are ranked No. 7 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association in doubles, were upset in two matches at the All-American Championships, so Bayane will be looking to bounce back in San Francisco against a significantly less competitive field. The Griffith-Bergevi duo is expected to contend as well, with Griffith off to a hot start in his freshman season.
At the Gaucho Classic last year, senior Nikhil Jayashankar won the singles title in the Flight A bracket. On the doubles side, junior Wyatt Houghton and Melton fell short in their final match but finished in second place for the tournament.
“We’ve been very successful at both San Francisco and Santa Barbara, so for us, it’s just a matter of our guys getting competitive matches and as many as possible,” said coach Wright.
This slate of tournaments will be crucial for the Bears because it is the final opportunity for practice before the USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Championships next weekend. As much practice as the team put in throughout the week, these tournaments are where their preparation comes to fruition and where they gain the experience they need to progress forward in the season.
“We’ve been practicing hard, and part of the practice is bringing it into the matches,” Wright said. “Practice is like studying, and matches are like exams.”
Kapil Kashyap covers men’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected]