No. 4 Cal men’s tennis clinches spot in ITA indoors tournament

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So much of the game of tennis is played in each competitor’s head. Body language is a total giveaway — to show frustration or defeat is a sign of weakness and vulnerability that can only strengthen an opponent’s reserve.

No. 69 senior Filip Bergevi seemed have this in the back of his mind as he confidently moved across the court and continued to go for big shots after losing the first set of his singles match. He came back from a first-set deficit against Tulane (3-1) on Saturday, clinching both the match for the No. 4 Cal men’s tennis team (2-0) and securing the Bears a spot at the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship.

“We haven’t played a dual match since last year, and it’s actually very different to play individual in the fall and come out here and play both the doubles and the single match with energy, with a team,” Bergevi said. “You actually get pretty tired when you’re not used to it. It was a good weekend, and it was good for our freshmen to get two matches in their bodies.”

On the subject of freshmen, No. 82 Bjorn Hoffmann showed off just how ready he is for college tennis, clinching both the doubles point and match for the Bears in their 4-0 win over Cal Poly (2-1) on Friday. After the No. 2 pair of seniors Florian Lakat and Bergevi handily defeated the Mustang’s No. 21 seniors Corey Pang and Ben Donovan 6-2, the duo of Hoffman and fellow freshman JT Nishimura beat junior Karl Enander and freshman Antoine Noel, 7-5, in a close match.

In singles, Bergevi cruised to a 6-2, 6-4 win over senior Garrett Auproux. No. 12 Lakat followed and breezed by No. 45 Donovan, 6-1, 6-4. After a close first set, Hoffmann took down Noel, 7-6(3), 6-4, to end a successful debut in college dual tennis play.

“Understandably, there was some nervousness at the start as anybody would be, but I really feel that they played with a lot of heart this weekend, and they’re one of the big reasons we’re advancing to Charleston,” said Cal head coach Peter Wright.

The following day wasn’t as easy as Friday, but Cal was able to maintain its coolheadedness and come away with the win.

“We got a lead and Tulane pushed back and they evened it up a little bit, and I think our guys did a good job at maintaining their composure and their focus all the way through to the end of the match,” Wright said.

The duo of No. 45 senior Andre Goransson and junior Billy Griffith crushed freshmen Ewan Moore and Luis Erlenbusch, 6-0, followed by doubles team of Bergevi and Lakat. The pair had another strong showing, beating the Waves’ seniors Chi-Shan Jao and Sebastian Rey, 6-3 to clinch the doubles point.

No. 15 Goransson played well, being the first to finish his match after winning 6-2, 6-3. His doubles partner No. 32 Griffith also won his singles match. Tulane’s No. 54 junior Constantin Schmitz’s scream on court one marked his disappointment of the day, after he defeated the top-20-ranked Lakat. Hoffmann also lost in a close match before Bergevi made his tremendous comeback, displaying his senior leadership on the team.

“I went for a lot of shots and it didn’t really go my way,” Bergevi said. “I still had a good positive energy going into the second set which helped me, and once he saw me fighting more and making more balls, he kind of broke down a little bit.”

And that senior leadership is what the team is going to need when they head to Charlottesville, Virginia, for the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship.

Taylor Choe covers men’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected]