For most Cal students, the last weeks of school will consist of a couple completely justified mental breakdowns, spending too many hours in Main Stacks, stress eating and drinking way too much coffee. But for Division I athletes, this academic ramp up is present along with an increased intensity with their sports, as most teams head into the post-season.
This weekend, the No. 1 seeded Cal women’s tennis team will end its finals week participating in the first round of the NCAAs. The Bears are scheduled to play WAC champion Texas Rio Grande Valley on Friday, while Big 12 runner-up Kansas will play the champion of the Big West, UC Santa Barbara — both at Hellman Tennis Complex.
“I think we’re just trying to take one match at a time and it’s really easy to get ahead of yourself,” said junior Maegan Manasse. “So making sure that we just focus on one match at a time and look forward to competing our best up there and doing well in the tournament.”
The Bears (19-1) were undefeated at home all regular season, so being able to play in Berkeley could come as an advantage. Cal should be expected to come out with a solid win against the unranked Vaqueros (11-10), moving on to play the winner of the Jayhawks (17-7) and Gauchos (18-7). It would be a shock to many if the Bears do not move on to Tulsa, Oklahoma to finish off the rest of the NCAA tournament.
Last season, third-seeded Cal lost to 14th-seeded rivals Stanford in upset fashion in the round of 16. The two teams have a high chance of another matchup. The Bears were 1-1 versus the Cardinal this season, with strong singles performances in both games.
“We’ve seen them [the players] play so many matches over the season now, that we really kind of know exactly what those couple things that they all need to focus on, so we try to make sure we’re incorporating that into our practices,” said Cal head coach Amanda Augustus. “And at this point, fitness-wise, you’re just trying to maintain and we’ve put the bulk of the work in with that already, so it’ll be a little lighter as we roll in the Championships.”
Just like preparing for finals, at this point in the year, it’s more about maintenance than progression The Bears have consistently been working on improving their doubles game, in which there have definitely been dazzling moments. But if the Cal doubles pairs compete the way they did in Ojai, the team might struggle making far in the NCAA tournament. Fortunately for the Bears, however, the tournament scheduling lines up perfectly.
“Normally we have to be sort of taking finals while we’re at NCAAs, so actually this year is exciting in that they get to take finals and we host, so they’ll be done with all of their exams by the time we start our first round,” Augustus said. “I think we’re just going to focus on getting our practices in and making the most of our practices. And then they’ll spend all of their other time finishing off their classes and doing well on their finals.”
Taylor Choe covers women’s tennis.
Contact her at [email protected].