As if Northern California wasn’t already rainy enough, the No. 12 Cal men’s tennis team will be travelling north to take on No. 23 Oregon (16-4, 2-2) on Friday and No. 37 Washington (12-7, 1-3) on Sunday in what is sure to be a stormy affair.
“We’re preparing for very tough Oregon and Washington teams to play on the road this weekend,” said Cal head coach Peter Wright. “I think our mindset is to be a little sharper each match out, and we know that these are conference matches. They’re important and they’re against quality competition, so we’re expecting tough matches this weekend and we’re preparing as such.”
With ranked singles and doubles teams throughout their lineup, the Bears (15-6, 2-1) are expected to have the final edge against both the Ducks and the Huskies. Hopefully the rain won’t be too much of an issue this weekend, with all teams wanting to get a few more matches in as postseason rapidly approaches.
Oregon looks like it will be the more difficult of the two matchups for Cal, but the Bears should not have too much of a problem coming out on top. The Ducks only have one ranked singles player in No. 26 Thomas Laurent, who will most likely face No. 15 senior Florian Lakat on court one. And while Lakat should have the advantage over Laurent based on ranking, it is essential to recognize that rankings for many of the individual players don’t always do a good job at indicating how one player will fair against another.
Aside from Lakat, Cal has two other ranked singles players in No. 45 senior Andre Goransson and No. 88 junior Billy Griffith. Goransson and Griffith have been two consistent players for the Bears, along with junior JT Nishimura, over the span of this season.
In addition to a strong singles lineup, Lakat and senior Filip Bergevi pair up to form the No. 4 doubles team in the nation. Cal has another ranked doubles team in No. 58 Goransson and Griffith.
For the Bears to succeed, it is integral that their doubles teams perform up to par. The duo of Lakat and Bergevi can give anyone it’s up against a good match, but they both need to be more consistent in their execution. And this weekend, Cal should be guaranteed to win the doubles point for both Friday and Sunday’s matches.
Sunday’s matchup versus Washington should not be challenging for the Bears. The Huskies have one ranked singles player with No. 90 Mitch Stewart. Washington has a losing record in the Pac-12 and will also have a difficult match versus No. 15 Stanford the Friday before it faces Cal.
Overall, the Bears should have a fairly low-stress weekend. Cal’s last match versus USC shows that it is definitely competitive against high-profile teams, but it’s all about pulling it together in the end. The Bears’ match versus the Trojans was much closer than the score indicated. While Cal did have a little bump in the middle of this season, it is now on its way up.
Taylor Choe covers men’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected]