Cal women’s tennis wins ITA Kick-Off Weekend, advances to ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championships

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Phillip Downey/Senior Staff

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Friday and Saturday’s rainouts didn’t put a damper on the No. 6 Cal women’s tennis team’s mental and physical game, as it managed to rout both Cal State Northridge and the University of Washington, 4-0 each, on Sunday to be crowned champion of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. The victory will allow the Bears to advance to the ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championships, set to be held next month in Madison, Wisconsin.

“Cal State Northridge competed hard,” said Cal head coach Amanda Augustus. “It’s not a team that we know a lot about, but I think we came out ready to go. The Huskies played well. They’re much improved this season. We’re pretty familiar with them, but the team stayed focused on the goal of getting better in this match.”

A few puddles of water at Hellman Tennis Complex put into doubt the kickoff time of the final and only day of the tournament. But once the courts dried up, the Bears started their campaign with strong performances in doubles play against the Matadors.

The No. 3 pair of juniors Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr bested Mickey Hsu and Kristen Poei, 6-1, on court one. The No. 43 duo of senior Klara Fabikova and freshman Olivia Hauger dispatched Vivian Lin and Skyla Alcon, 6-0, on court two. On court three, senior Lynn Chi and newcomer Maria Smith’s match versus Kiryang Kim and Mari Taslagyan was abandoned at a 5-2 score because the Bears’ two victories were enough for them to clinch the doubles point.

Cal later followed up with another solid performance in singles play, where three of its six matches were abandoned. Manasse routed Hsu, 6-1, 6-0, on court one, while Starr came out on top against Kim, 6-0, 6-1, on court three. Fabikova rounded out the Bears efforts with a 6-1, 6-1 win on court six against Taslagyan. Including the scrapped bouts, the Bears ultimately defeated the Matadors, 4-0, to advance to the championship match against Washington.

In the final, the Bears took a 1-0 lead off of a 2-1 win in doubles play. Chi and Smith secured the first win with their match against the Huskies’ Nour Abbes and Grace Ysidora, 6-1. The duo of Fabikova and Hauger picked up the game-winning point by beating Elianne Douglas-Miron and Stacey Fung, 6-3.  In the upset of the event, the pair of Manasse and Starr struggled to find its rhythm, losing 6-3, against Tami Grende and Miki Kobayashi.

“(Grende and Kobayashi) came out a little bit stronger than we did today,” Manasse said. “But it just shows you that we have a lot to work on so (Starr) and I could win that doubles point, help clinch it next time.”

But Manasse seemingly didn’t let the doubles loss psych her out in singles play, as she notched the game-winning point in her match against Abbes. The junior trailed early in the first set. She kept playing her game, however, and she regained her composure. Manasse never looked back and defeated Abbes, 6-2, 6-2. Manasse’s victory rounded out the Bears’ 4-0 championship win, as Fabikova and Chi both topped their opposition.

“It was pretty nice,” Manasse said. “I saw Lynn won it, then Klara won it. It was my match point, and I was like, ‘Okay, I got this.’ Everyone was cheering for me. It’s always a great feeling clinching match.”

Contact Manny Flores at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @manny_0.