It seems like almost anything the No. 1 Cal women’s tennis team sets its mind to, it can accomplish. Before heading into the Pac-12 Championships, Cal head coach Amanda Augustus stated that she would love it if the team were to bring home some titles. And that’s what they did.
“I think to finish the weekend with two singles titles is really exciting,” Augustus said. “I think both Maegan (Manasse) and Olivia (Hauger) played really well, and we’re just excited to bring two conference championships back to Berkeley. They both hit the ball really well today and played really smart.”
On Sunday, No. 11 Manasse, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, became only the third tennis player for the Bears to win the Pac-12 singles championship. Manasse defeated UCLA’s defending champion No. 17 Catherine Harrison, 6-3, 6-2, in a much more commanding way than the last time the two faced off in a three set match Feb. 20.
“I thought I played really well, playing all really tough matches,” Manasse said. “The weather was really nice, too, which was good. I thought I played very smart and I had a really clear head so I was able to strategize the court to each of my opponents. I think also being really strong from the baseline and incorporating coming to net, which is really good. And I can’t wait to go back to practice and fix a couple things and get them ready for NCAAs.”
Also bringing home another big win was freshman Olivia Hauger who defeated Caroline Lampl in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4, to receive the Pac-12 singles invitational title. In the quarterfinals, she matched up against her fellow teammate, Karla Popovic, beating her handily, 6-2, 6-0. Hauger has been having a great season and her youth only points to a bright future.
Unfortunately for Cal, its doubles teams were unable to perform up to par with its singles. The No. 2 pair of Manasse and junior Denise Starr, seeded No. 1, lost in the first round to Utah’s unranked duo of Margo Pletcher and Brianna Turley, 6-2. This is the area that the Bears have been continuously been trying to improve, especially in consistency. In addition, senior Klara Fabikova and Hauger were unable to defeat Stanford’s No. 2 seed team of Taylor Davidson and Caroline Doyle, falling 6-4, leaving the doubles championship bracket with no Bears after the first round.
No. 12 Fabikova, seeded second, also seemed to struggle in singles losing in the round of 16, once again to Doyle, 2-6, 6-0, 6-3.
“I think everyone got good matchplay in,” Augustus said. “I think it helps everyone seeing exactly where they’re at. For the coaches, we go home with a list of things to work on and improve for the next week.”
The Bears will be back in Berkeley with smiles and titles, having three weeks to prepare for the NCAAs. The Pac-12 Championships gave good indications of what areas need to be improved on and how the team will fair as it gets deeper into the postseason. Expectations were obviously high, but with the strong singles performances this week, they rose even higher.
Taylor Choe covers women’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected]