Freshman year of college entails many “firsts”: first all nighter, first frat party, first time away from home and for freshman Nic Barretto, first time clinching a Division I college tennis match. As the team’s loudest cheerer and one of its top freshmen, it’s about time Barretto is the one everyone is cheering for.
On Thursday afternoon, Barretto clinched the match for the No. 7 Cal men’s tennis team (9-1) in a 6-1 win over USD (6-3). A first-round clinch is a pretty big deal considering that in addition to playing singles, Baretto is playing doubles while senior Florian Lakat’s partner is recovering from injury.
“It was solid performance by our guys,” said Cal head coach Peter Wright. “And it was really exciting to have Nic Baretto clinch. We’ve had six different guys clinch matches so far this season, and it was wonderful that Nic could come out with the win. He’s playing great tennis, stepped into position he didn’t expect to be put in and has been playing at a high level.”
The Bears had no time to rest as some players headed straight into the Pacific Coast Men’s Doubles Championships. Because this was an open tournament, associate coach Tyler Browne played with senior Andre Goransson and volunteer assistant coach Scott Kinz paired up with Lakat. No. 5-seeded Browne and Goransson made it the farthest, advancing to the round of 16 before falling to the No. 2-seeded duo of Keegan Smith and Ivan Thamma, 6-2, 6-4. While the players’ tournament might have ended early, they were able to take a few days off and focus on their health, something that Wright thinks the team needed.
“In doubles, some (of) our guys didn’t play great, but it was not very important for overall competition,” Wright said. “Now, we’re just focused on playing Stanford on Tuesday and then TCU and Texas later in the week. Given our health, a couple of days of rest was what doctor called for, so I’m not disappointed with the results, and I’m happy to see us getting healthy.”
Although the Bears have been missing one of their top players, No. 63 Bergevi, they seem to have the depth to handle high-profile teams without him. Tuesday’s Stanford-Cal match, however, is always one of the toughest for both sides. While Stanford is unranked at the moment, the match between the two rivals is always a close one. Cal is hoping to have Bergevi back by Tuesday, but if his health does not allow for that, the team should still have the confidence to defeat the Cardinal.
Following his match clinch, Barretto could have the opportunity to play in a spectacular rivalry match, something that every player surely looks forward to. For any player, but especially for a freshman, taking advantage of every opportunity makes the experience all the more worthwhile. And knowing Barretto, whether he plays or not Wednesday, we can rest assured that his cheers will be heard above all. So Stanford better watch out — and not just for the Bears tennis skills. The Cardinal better hope they have a crowd big enough to overpower Barretto, because he sure is a force to be reckoned with.
Taylor Choe covers men’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected]