Once again, the Cal men’s tennis team enters an early season tournament in which it had great success last year, but failing to repeat that success could be an early embarrassing stumble. Last year’s Battle in the Bay Classic saw Bear players win the singles and doubles title, along with the single consolation title, so expectations are rightfully high.
“Last year was last year, and this year is this year,” said Cal associate head coach Tyler Browne. “We’ve only got one guy who played in it last year playing in it again this year. We’ve got two freshmen and one sophomore, so it’ll be a nice mix and a good opportunity for the other guys to prove that they belong. They’re working on a lot of different things.”
The Bears had to go up against players from top college tennis programs such as USC and North Carolina last weekend in the Napa Valley Classic, but the level of competition will likely drop off in this tournament. Although USC will be playing once again and a strong TCU program which ended last season ranked No. 5 will be sending players, the other teams in the tournament form a fairly underwhelming group. UCSF is hosting the tournament, which will include players from 16 schools in total, including Pepperdine, Arizona, Iowa and UCSB.
Last season’s Battle in the Bay was the opening event of the fall for the men’s tennis team, and it made a strong opening impression. Current senior Andre Goransson overcame teammate and then-junior Filip Bergevi in the semifinals of the singles draw in a back and forth three-set match that ended in a tie-breaker before moving on to win the title against a player from UC Davis in straight sets. This earned him a wild-card spot in the Wells Fargo Tiburon Challenger, but he was unable to play.
Goransson’s single title was the second of his career, after winning the tournament his freshman year and finishing in second his sophomore year. He additionally nabbed the doubles title in the tournament in 2015 while playing with then-junior Florian Lakat, one of the few matches Lakat played with a partner other than Bergevi. Bergevi and Lakat went on to earn the second ranking in the nation. Goransson will not be playing, but Lakat will be sent along with freshmen Bjorn Hoffman and Dominic Barretto and sophomore Gunther Matta.
Then-senior and current undergraduate assistant coach Oskar Wikberg also won the title in the singles consolation draw on his birthday by defeating teammate and now-junior Billy Griffith 6-1, 4-6, 1-0 (5).That was the second consecutive win of the consolation draw by a Bear. Winning the consolation draw obviously has its drawbacks (a title versus losing in the first round), but winning a third year in a row would certainly be some sort of an accomplishment.
“It’s having the ability to sleep in your own bed,” Browne said. “Sometimes that gets overlooked. Having that ability to go home after each day, recharge the batteries, sort of figure out a routine, allows us to be in the right mindset for each day of competition.”
Andrew Wild covers men’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].