The National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships take place from Thursday to Sunday this week in New York, and three Cal tennis players will be heading to the Big Apple with unfinished business in mind.
Coming off a title win at the All-American Championships, the doubles pair of seniors Florian Lakat and Filip Bergevi is looking to seal its position as the best doubles team in the nation with another first-place finish. Similarly, senior Andre Goransson only has one way to improve on last year’s runner-up finish in the tournament — take the whole damn thing.
“I expect to take every match,” Goransson said. “I’m ready for battle every time I go out there. I’m just going to approach every match similarly to what I’ve done already.”
Goransson, currently ranked 17th in the nation for singles, earned his spot back in the tournament by defeating teammate Filip Bergevi in the finals at the ITA Northwest Championships. He received his berth in the 2015 edition of the tournament by making the semifinals of the All-Americans, and while only No. 22 in the nation at the time, made the singles finals by defeating the 18th, 19th, fourth and 27th seeded players in the draw in that order.
His opponent in the final was Tulane senior Dominik Koepfer, the third seeded player in the tournament. Although he fell 6-1, 7-5 to Koepfer, Goransson was awarded the tournament’s Sportsmanship Award and was only the third Cal player to make the tournament’s final.
Goransson would likely have to play the second seed, Virginia senior Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, in order to make the finals this time around. Virginia eliminated Cal in the semifinals of last year’s NCAA tournament with Kwiatkowski defeating Goransson in doubles. He also beat Cal junior Billy Griffith 6-3, 6-0 in that matchup.
Lakat will also be playing in the singles draw for the first time in his career. He faces a potential second-round matchup with Mississippi State sophomore Nuno Borges, the fourth seed in the tournament. The two Bears are on opposite sides of the draw, leaving the possibility, however remote, for what would be a historic Cal vs. Cal final.
The team of Bergevi and Lakat is the No. 1 seed in the doubles draw and has received a first round bye, meaning it only needs to defeat three opponents to make the finals. Both of their possible opponents that they would face in their second match have, however, also received a first round bye, meaning the Bears would not be the only duo with extra rest.
Coming into the fall season, Bergevi and Lakat were ranked second in the nation. With the All-American title in hand, and the team previously ranked first now receiving only the fourth seed, a good result should guarantee their ranking as the No. 1 team in the nation heading into spring.
“We’ve set a very good tone (this fall) regardless of how we do this weekend,” Cal associate head coach Tyler Browne said. “All of our guys are playing great tennis, and regardless of whether we do well or not, everybody knows that Cal has had a special fall.”
Andrew Wild covers men’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].