It’s funny how a three-game win streak for a top-10 team is expected, but when the team loses three games, it’s a disappointment. It’s so easy to just look at a team’s recent record and take it without any real knowledge of what occurred in those games. So upon first glance, it is easy to see that the No. 6 Cal men’s tennis team lost three matches in a row to teams ranked beneath it. But what the record doesn’t show is that each of these matches came down to the absolute last set of the last court.
“We’re maybe thinking about the outcome — obviously not pleased with that— but I think some of the performances over the course of the weekend were outstanding and we’re headed in right direction,” said Cal head coach Peter Wright. “We didn’t get a couple of breaks that might’ve gone our way, and Texas and TCU are two very very strong teams.”
After a disappointing loss to No. 41 rival Stanford, the Bears (9-4) were narrowly defeated, 4-3, by No. 31 TCU (7-4) on Friday. Cal got off to a slow start, losing the doubles point when the No. 1 pair of seniors Florian Lakat and Filip Bergevi fell to an unranked team of Reese Stalder and Jerry Lopez.
In singles, the Bears’ bottom three courts won with No. 109 Bergevi winning in three sets. Cal’s top three courts were unable to pull through, however, as No. 14 Lakat, No. 53 junior Billy Griffith, and No. 30 senior Andre Goransson all lost to players ranked substantially beneath them. The match came down to Goransson’s court, where he lost 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-1 to No. 84 sophomore Alex Rybakov.
The Bears were given no time to dwell and had to prepare to face No. 8 Texas the next day. Cal was once again unable to win the doubles points, something that could have changed the match’s final outcome. And with integral player Griffith out, the Bears were unsuccessful in getting the one last singles win they needed to come out on top.
This match did boast better performances by some of the players though, as Lakat defeated No. 12 freshman Christian Sigsgaard and Bergevi got another win. Unranked freshman Bjorn Hoffmann also played well — defeating an opponent ranked well above him — fighting to a three set win over No. 34 freshman Yuya Ito, 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-3.
Despite these players’ successes, freshman Connor Heap fell short, and Goransson once again was unable to win his three setter. The match came down to court five after junior JT Nishimura wasn’t able to capitalize on multiple match points in the second set of his match. He eventually lost in three sets, to No. 108 redshirt freshman Leonardo Telles, 6-7(6), 7-5, 6-2.
“The biggest takeaway from the weekend is that we’re playing some of the best teams in the country, we’re in some situations, one point away from winning these matches,” Wright said. “We’re certainly not playing at 100 percent so I think that’s encouraging for us to know that when we play these teams later in the season, we will be a better team.”
Taylor Choe covers men’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected]