When you’re ranked second, there’s only one way to impress and go beyond expectations. The second-ranked men’s tennis doubles team in the nation, Cal’s Florian Lakat and Filip Bergevi, did exactly that by taking the title at the Saint Francis Health System ITA All-American Championships. One year ago, Lakat was playing with a different partner at this tournament, while Bergevi didn’t participate. Now they hoist the trophy as the top team in the nation.
“Our guys are really excited about winning the national championship, and it’s certainly a great thing for our program,” said Cal head coach Peter Wright. “The way they played, they saved their best tennis for the finals. They played better each match throughout the week, they’ve been building towards this and they like the pressure.”
The No. 1 seeded duo from Oklahoma State was upset by an unseeded team in the first round, making Bergevi and Lakat’s opportunity to stake their claim as the new best doubles team in the nation all the more close and tantalizing. The pair that upset the No. 1 seeded team was not the one that ended up making the finals, but it was yet another unseeded team that took its place: senior Jack Findel-Hawkins and junior Lasse Muscheites from the University of North Florida. They proved to be no match for the Bears’ top duo, who quickly secured the title with a 6-4, 6-2 win.
“I don’t think rankings mean that much in the fall, but one of the members of the No. 1 team was my ex-doubles partner (at Mississippi State), so it’s a little disappointing because I wanted to see him in the tournament,” Lakat said. “We weren’t really thinking about them though, just our next opponent.”
This is the first time a Bears duo has won the All-American doubles title since 1989. Cal’s other exploits at the tournament were a mixed bag, with three of the four players in the singles draw failing to make the round of 16.
Senior Andre Goransson, the 17th ranked player in the nation, was defeated in the first round by Arkansas senior Jose Salazar. Goransson went on to make the semifinals of the consolation draw, but his failure to make it out of the first round of the main draw certainly comes as a rude surprise. Bergevi and junior Billy Griffith fell in the round of 32, and Lakat made it all the way to the quarterfinal before losing to Texas freshman Christian Sigsgaard in straight sets.
“(Sigsgaard) has been playing incredible tennis for about three weeks now,” Lakat said. “I did my very best but had a sloppy start, and I didn’t get to break him.
Other players from the men’s tennis team played at the UCSB Classic over the weekend, and the results were a disappointment coming after an impressive showing at the Aggie Invitational the week before. Freshman Bjorn Hoffmann, coming off his first career title from the singles draw in the Aggie Invitational, lost in a very close three-set match to Pacific’s senior Miguel Diaz in the first round of the A draw. Fellow freshman Nic Barretto lost in the first round of the B draw, and the two Cal doubles teams playing in the tournament both lost in the C draw.
“The matches that we lost, I’m still proud of the way they competed,” said Cal associate head coach Tyler Browne. “It’s a lesson for them to understand that if they don’t stick to the plan and what we’ve been working on, they won’t be successful on the court. That was evident in both (Hoffmann) and (Barretto’s) matches. But after each match, they learned something and improved. They may have gotten a little overconfident, and as freshman, they both have maturing to do. It’s great that they lost because it proves they have to commit to the styles that we’ve been working on.”
Andrew Wild covers men’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].