Tennis is an individual sport. It’s ingrained in players starting at a young age because once you get out on the court, it’s all on you. But while individual wins and titles hold a lot of clout, when it comes to collegiate awards, the NCAA Championship Title is the crowned jewel — something that can’t be won by one player alone.
The No. 11 Cal men’s tennis team (15-5, 2-0) showed the power of a synchronized team this weekend, muting Utah and Arizona in two 4-0 wins. The Bears are finally starting to look like a team that deserves a shot at competing for the championship, as each player did their part in pushing Cal to quick victory.
“It’s great to start the Pac-12 season off with a couple of strong performances,” said Cal head coach Peter Wright. “I think we did a great job in doubles both days, and we were very efficient. We’ve been working on being aggressive — more aggressive in singles — and I think we benefitted from that across the board over the weekend.”
With No. 13 senior Florian Lakat out completely for both matches and No. 48 senior Andre Goransson missing in singles versus the Wildcats, it was even more essential for the Bears to come out with greater intensity.
Friday’s match versus the Utes (14-6, 0-2) was over in less than two hours as Cal stifled any hope Utah had of winning one match. The Bears won the doubles point with ease after the pair of freshman Bjorn Hoffmann and junior JT Nishimura, playing on court two, clinched. Cal continued its strong showing into singles, where Goransson and No. 71 junior Billy Griffith quickly dismantled their opponents on courts one and two. They were followed by Nishimura, who also clinched the match for the Bears.
“I think it gives our guys a lot of confidence, knowing that they can play higher in the lineup,” Wright said. “We were missing Florian for both matches, singles and doubles. Andre was a little bit hurt this weekend, but he managed to get into play both doubles and one singles. I think we performed well, and I think that certainly boosts their confidence.”
This confidence definitely continued onto the next day, as Cal dominated Arizona (9-11, 0-2) in a similar fashion to Friday’s match. In doubles, even without his usual partner in Lakat, senior Filip Bergevi was able to clinch the doubles point for the Bears with his new sidekick, freshman Nic Barretto. Cal stayed aggressive into its singles matches and was led by Nishimura, who bageled his opponent on court four. Before him was his doubles partner Hoffmann, who quickly won his match as well. This time, it was Griffith, playing on court one, who clinched the match for the Bears.
This was a great weekend for Cal and a positive way to begin Pac-12 play. The whole team seemed to share a common goal, as each player came out and played their part in contributing to decisive wins. With only five matches left before the Pac-12 Championships, the Bears are looking solid and more and more prepared for the postseason.
Taylor Choe covers men’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected]