Losing multiple matchups in a row is obviously not the ideal situation for any sports team. The great teams, however, are able to find a way to get back up after being knocked down.
This weekend, the No. 8 Cal men’s tennis team (9-4) will have the opportunity to prove whether it possesses that quality as it travels to the BNP Paribas Open Collegiate Tennis Challenge in Indian Wells, California. The No. 1-seeded Bears will have a chance to redeem themselves in the tournament after three straight losses.
“We’re trying to do a better job of attacking,” said Cal head coach Peter Wright. “We’re trying to create more scenarios in which we are creating pressure for our opponents and that’s really been one of the main focuses of practice this week.”
Cal will face eighth-seeded Purdue (11-6) in an early Friday morning match. Although this would have been an easy win for the Bears in the past, their past three matches have proved that Cal is not invincible. The Bears are clearly the stronger team on paper, as the Boilermakers only have one ranked doubles team in No. 7 redshirt junior Gergely Madarasz (also ranked No. 102 in singles) and senior Ricky Medinilla. But the team should not underestimate Purdue because, as proven in the past, rankings aren’t everything.
In doubles, the Bears lineup includes the No. 1-ranked doubles pair in the nation of seniors Florian Lakat and Filip Bergevi. Cal also has No. 54 duo of junior Billy Griffith and senior Andre Goransson.
The Bears are lead by No. 14 Lakat in singles, who upset No. 12 freshman Christian Sigsgaard of Texas in Cal’s most recent match. He is followed in the lineup by No. 30 Goransson, who has lost his past two in three sets. No. 109 Bergevi, who just recently came back from an injury that had him out for a few weeks, seems to be getting back into the swing of things by winning his previous match with ease in two sets.
Because Cal seems to be so injury-prone, some of the freshmen have been able to gain valuable experience in match-play. Freshman Bjorn Hoffmann took advantage of this opportunity in the team’s most recent match versus Texas to defeat No. 34 Yuya Ito 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-3. In addition to Hoffmann — when he isn’t screaming on the sidelines — Nic Barretto has also been seeing some playing time as well as Connor Heap.
Clearly the Bears comprise a very strong team that is in dire need of a rebound, and this tournament will be an important step in getting them back into a winning mentality. Having gone through three full seasons, Goransson, Lakat and Bergevi should play integral roles in getting the team back on track. And while the postseason starts in late April, the regular season sets the stage for expectations and attitude.
“I think we want to get back on the winning track, that’s for sure,” Wright said. “We’ve been playing well, we’ve just had some narrow losses. I think overall, we’re looking at one match at a time. But certainly, in this first match, we want to start a winning streak.”
Taylor Choe covers men’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected]