No. 7 Cal men’s tennis barely pulls out victory over No. 9 Michigan

PC: Daniel Ho
Daniel Ho/File

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“Let’s Go Flo! C’mon Dre! Yeah Billy!”

Despite his loss, freshman Nic Barretto’s screams were heard above all as he cheered on his teammates after finishing his own match. His yells of encouragement weren’t for nothing. as many of the Cal players were able to capitalize on pivotal moments and bring home the win.

On Tuesday night, two athletic powerhouses faced off at Hellman Tennis Complex. A combination of “Go Blue” and “Go Bears” chants rang throughout the courts as the No. 7 Cal (8-1) men’s tennis team narrowly defeated No. 9 Michigan (7-2), 4-3.

“Today’s match, we had more twists and turns than an Alfred Hitchcock movie,” said Cal head coach Peter Wright. “I think our guys really rose to the challenge today.”

Despite missing senior Filip Bergevi in their lineup, the Bears got off to a strong start. The team of freshman Bjorn Hoffmann and junior JT Nishimura secured the doubles point for Cal after the duo of senior Andre Goransson and junior Billy Griffith handily defeating the pair of No. 22 Jathan Malik and Connor Johnston, 6-2.

But going into singles, the Bears knew that they were in for a fight, as Cal lost its first three singles matches. The frustration was apparent on both teams every time a ball flew wide or volleys were hit into the net. Players were seen muttering to themselves as both Cal and Michigan’s coaches attempted to get their boys back into the match. Cheers echoed on both sides as any sort of mistake or big shot led to a chorus of shouts among rowdy fellow teammates.

“We had to battle back,” Wright said. “Billy Griffith, another gutsy performance. (He) is really coming into his own this year. He’s really showing a lot of intestinal fortitude.”

After losing the first set, Griffith was able to dig deep and come back to win another grueling three-set match for the Bears, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. Two courts over, on court one, No. 20 senior Florian Lakat narrowly won his first set despite getting off to a slow start. After taking too long between sets, Lakat started off the second 0-15, which seemed to set off a downward spiral of frustration as double faults became more consistent and shots seemed to continuously fly wide. In the third set, however, the pace seemed to shift back to Lakat as big serves and powerful forehands overpowered his opponent and stifled Malik’s ability to respond with equally strong shots.

With Lakat winning 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-2, all eyes turned to No. 26 junior Andre Goransson and No. 66 Myles Schalet. After cruising through the first set and not being able to capitalize on a break point in the second, Goransson seemed to have lost his mojo a bit. But as all great players do, he managed to stay calm despite the pressure of the match on his shoulders, and was able to win it 6-3, 6-7(8), 6-2 to clinch the match for the Bears.

“I’m a pretty calm person on the court, so I tend to not get too upset in diverse moments,” Goransson said. “At least today I was able to handle it pretty well. Of course it wasn’t the best feeling when I lost all those match points and I lost the second set, but that’s tennis.”

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