Sometimes what’s supposed to be an “easy” win doesn’t end up actually being an easy. In any given match, there are unexpected twists and turns that can swing the match one way or another.
On Wednesday, the No. 11 Cal men’s tennis team had a close call at home against unranked Yale, barely edging out the Bulldogs, 4-3. Of course, when it comes to a team’s record, there is nothing that differentiates a 4-0 win from a 4-3 win, but this match really should have been an easy win for the Bears. It’s a little troubling that Cal, one of the top ranked teams in the country, almost lost to an unranked Ivy League squad.
“There was one point there in the evening where they were in control of the match, and we needed some really strong performances from Connor Heap and Andre Goransson, who both lost their first to come back and win the match,” said Cal head coach Peter Wright.
Despite the close call, the Bears got off to a strong start. The No. 4 ranked duo of seniors Florian Lakat and Filip Bergevi rightfully won their match, 6-2, on court one. The No. 65 pair of senior Andre Goransson and junior Billy Griffith won 6-2 to clinch the doubles point on court two.
When a team wins the doubles point, it usually has a pretty good chance of winning the entire match. So to Cal, it might have seemed as if they were in the clear for singles. But either Yale put up a big fight or the Bears just weren’t playing to their normal level, as they struggled to stay ahead in the match.
Lakat, Goransson, Griffith and freshman Connor Heap all lost their first sets. While No. 13 Lakat came back to win the second, he was unable to continue his run and ended up losing in three sets to No. 103 Tyler Lu. Just based off of ranking, this win should have been in the bag for Lakat. His partner No. 108 Bergevi also lost his singles match to an unranked opponent in two sets. And even after winning his first set, No. 71 Griffith couldn’t hold off his unranked opponent, losing in three.
Although the trio struggled, there were three singles players who saved the match for Cal. Two of them were freshmen Bjorn Hoffmann and Heap. Hoffmann was the first one to win his match in two sets, and Heap came back from a first set deficit to win his in three.
Tied up at three games apiece, the whole match came down to Goransson’s match. After losing the first set in the tiebreaker, Goransson came back in the second, winning it 6-4. That seemed to give him the confidence and energy for the next set, as he went on to win it 6-1, breezing past his opponent and clinching the match for the Bears.
“I think for us to be successful, when we go out on the singles court, each guy has to be playing at the height of his game,” Wright said. “When we do that, I think that gives us a great opportunity to be successful in the conference and also on the national level.”
Taylor Choe covers men’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected]