Men’s tennis concludes fall season at Gael Classic

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That’s a wrap for the fall season. On Saturday and Sunday, a squad of five Bears competed in Cal men’s tennis’ final tournament of the fall — the Gael Classic hosted by Saint Mary’s — giving them two months off before the start of the spring season in January. Initially, the tournament was scheduled to start Friday, but the rain caused the day’s matches to be cancelled.

The Bears entered the tournament with many of the top-seeds in the bracket but failed to capitalize on the advantage. In singles flight A, junior transfer Oskar Wikberg and junior Mads Engsted were the one- and two-seeds, respectively. Both of them received byes in the first round and won their matches in the round of 16 but ultimately fell short in the quarterfinals. Wikberg was ousted in two sets by James Wade from UC Davis. Engsted, on the other hand, lost in a brutally close match that ended in a tiebreaker against Bryce McKelvie from UC Davis.

In doubles, the narrative remained mostly the same. The duo of senior Nikhil Jayashankar and junior Jordan Smith was seeded No. 1 in doubles flight B and managed to advance all the way to the finals of their bracket. Ultimately, the combo of Naveen Beasley and Timothy Tan from Cal Poly was too much for the Bears to handle, and they collapsed in the finals.

While the results of this weekend’s match-play weren’t stellar, the coaching staff isn’t measuring the team’s performance in terms of wins and losses. The players may not have been optimistic about the way they played, but associate head coach Tyler Browne definitely was.

“I saw a lot of positive things,” Browne said. “They’re still working on different aspects of the game, and knowing they’re going to be at a little bit of a disadvantage trying out new shots and new styles of tennis, I was pleased to see that they stuck to that game plan.”

From a coaching perspective, the team’s final tournament — and much of the fall season, for that matter — was intended to be an opportunity for the players to implement and test out what they worked on in practice. As long as they demonstrated some improvement in the areas they worked on, the result, be it a win or loss, was inconsequential. That way, they would be prepared for the spring season, which is when the team really hopes to shine.

“These guys are all working on different aspects of the game, and they’re trying to add different tools to the tool belt,” Browne said. “Each time they play a match, they need to get a little better, and they need to recognize where they are in the match and say, ‘Hey, I can do this a little better next time.’ ”

Now that the fall season is complete, the team’s focus shifts to a different kind of preparation.

“These guys, they’ve been training hard for the last 10 weeks, so they also need a little bit of a break,” Browne said. “So immediately after this, we’ll take about a week off — just kind of let them rest up, recharge the batteries. That second/third week of November, we’ll really start to pick up off the court stuff. We’ll start ramping up a little bit more in the weight room.”

Kapil Kashyap covers men’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected]