Prepare for the unexpected. It’s what all coaches tell their players ahead of competitions. With clear and sunny weather on the forecast, the Cal women’s tennis team was expecting nothing out of the ordinary ahead of its Pac-12 clash with Colorado. But just like the unpredictable weather in California this year, Boulder was hit with its own little twist. Rain and thunderstorms hit the area before the match, causing the two teams to find another way to play.
While the game was originally supposed to be an outdoor match, it was instead played indoors at the Rocky Mountain Tennis Center.
For the Bears, this last-minute change didn’t seem to have too big of an impact. In doubles, all three teams started off strong. In the end, the pair of sophomore Olivia Hauger and junior Karla Popovic clinched the doubles point. In singles, Cal continued its strong play as senior Denise Starr and No. 7 Popovic delivered victories. Up 3-0, No. 45 senior Maegan Manasse stormed back from a set down to clinch the match for the Bears. Sophomores Maria Smith and No. 69 Hauger added two more wins. In the end, Cal improved to 4-1 in Pac-12 play with the 6-1 rout against Colorado.
“You have to be adaptable to all types of conditions and surfaces,” said head coach Amanda Augustus. “Having to make these types of adjustments are good for us as we approach the postseason.”
On Sunday, it was more indoor courts in Utah. This time out, Cal looked to extend its winning streak to four games.
Against the Utes, the Bears continued their strong doubles play from Friday by converting break point opportunities to take leads in all three doubles matches. Eventually, the doubles team of Hauger and Popovic once again clinched the doubles point for the Bears, giving them a 1-0 advantage.
In singles, the performances weren’t as strong as they were in doubles play. While Manasse gave the Bears a 2-0 lead, Starr lost on Court 3. The next match to finish was on court two, where Popovic cruised to a straight sets victory 6-4, 6-4. Up 3-1, Cal needed just one more win to clinch the match. Senior Stephane Lin rose to the challenge. On Court six, she closed out her opponent 6-3, 6-4 to give Cal its match-clinching win. After that, Cal went on to lose the last two matches in third-set tiebreakers. While it wasn’t a complete performance, the Bears still took care of business and got the vital road victory.
“I think we did a good job this weekend,” Augustus said. “I do think we need to work on our serves. We didn’t serve particularly well in singles, so we’ll come home and work on that.”
All in all, the Bears did what they needed to do: win two more important Pac-12 matches. With only a handful of regular season games remaining, the Bears will look to build on these two road victories as they get ready to play some of the better teams in the conference, notably Washington and Stanford.
Praveen Kuruppu covers women’s tennis. Contact him at