This weekend will be a matchup between UC’s as the No. 6 Cal men’s tennis team (5-1) hosts its unranked siblings UC Davis (4-3) and UCSB (4-1). The Bears are heavily favored to win both weekend matches and keep their record at only one loss for the season, considering neither the Aggies nor the Gauchos have any ranked players. With Cal being the first UC, UCSB and UC Davis still haven’t been able to catch up to their oldest sibling, but this weekend they’ll have a chance to team up and wrestle away the throne.
Both of the Bears’ matches will take place Sunday in Hellman Tennis Complex, where they will first face UC Davis. The Aggies have a three-game winning streak, which they will be hoping to extend while in the Bay Area. Before facing Cal, however, Davis has a match against Sacramento State on Saturday afternoon. So while the Bears will be well-rested, the Aggies will need to quickly refresh and prepare for an intense match in Berkeley. This will just add on to the already advantageous talent that Cal’s roster has compared to Davis’s.
Later that Sunday, the Bears will have to switch gears and prepare to face UCSB. This match should be fairly easy as well, although the Gauchos do have a better record than the Aggies with only one loss. UCSB also has a match the day before against University of San Francisco. WIth a whole day to recover, versus the span of minutes that Cal will have between its two Sunday matches, the Gauchos will have the chance to give the Bears some trouble. If UCSB wants even a sliver of opportunity to defeat Cal, they should hope that Davis is able to give Cal more trouble than expected and wear the Bears down.
On the Bears end, they currently have four ranked singles players. No. 20 senior Florian Lakat has had a strong start to his season, only losing one match so far. Next in the polls is No. 26 Andre Goransson, who has also been consistent for Cal, while exemplifying senior leadership to many of the other younger members. Goransson’s teammate since high school and fellow senior Filip Bergevi is also ranked, coming in at No. 63. And in addition to the big three seniors, is No. 80 junior Billy Griffith, whose composure and strong play have been vital to Cal’s successful start to the season.
These core four also make up the Bears’ top two doubles teams. The No. 2 power duo of Lakat and Bergevi has been showing why it is one of the best doubles teams in the nation. The unranked pair of Goransson and Griffith has also been dependable for Cal this season.
In addition to these four, a few new faces have started making their own statements on the tennis court and will look to continue making their presence felt this weekend. Freshman Bjorn Hoffmann has been playing on court five for the Bears, battling his way through a healthy amount of three-set matches. He has also played doubles with junior J.T. Nishimura at the third slot. Nishimura is coming off a big weekend at the ITA National Indoor Championships, having clinched Cal’s win over No. 15 UCLA. Freshman Connor Heap has been seeing playing time in singles on court six, and his fellow freshman Nic Barretto was able to play last weekend as well.
The Bears have a talented lineup which they proved can win against a top-20 team even without its top players. And although both of their foes would most likely be easy wins on their own, it will be a test of Cal’s depth and attrition in Sunday’s doubleheader.
Taylor Choe covers men’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected]