Entering this weekend’s Pac-12 clash with Washington and Washington State, there was just one big question for No. 16 Cal women’s tennis. Would it come out flat or respond to Cal head coach Amanda Augustus’ request of playing more aggressively and serving more efficiently? Not only did Cal take care of business in that regard — it beat both teams 7-0 in a convincing fashion.
On Friday, the Bears returned home to the Hellman Tennis Center, where they were back playing on outdoor courts after a stretch of indoor matches. After a few matches of subpar doubles play, Cal looked to come out strong and secure the first point of the match. Seemingly feeling rejuvenated, the Bears came out firing. Right from the onset, both the No. 51 pair of senior Maegan Manasse and graduate transfer Maya Jansen and the team of junior Karla Popovic and sophomore Olivia Hauger dominated play. They jumped out to early leads and never looked backed, both winning 6-1 to secure the doubles’ point.
In singles, the romp continued. In a match against an up-and-coming Washington squad, this was supposed to be highly contested but it was anything but. The Bears made quick work of the Huskies and did not lose a single set in singles.
On Saturday, with helicopters circling over Hellman during the entire match because of protests in Downtown Berkeley, the Bears were back for their next game against Washington State. Celebrating Senior Day, departing seniors Maegan Manasse, Denise Starr, Stephane Lin and graduate transfer Maya Jansen all looked to come out strong one more time in front of the home crowd, and all four did just that. Each of them were exemplary of the different approach the team was looking for in the 7-0 rout of the Cougars.
“It was good to be back at Hellman and be outside,” Augustus said. “I thought it was a good weekend of play as we wanted to get some matches in and build confidence. We will definitely look to play a few longer points this week, although we were pushed on a couple courts.”
While Cal did just about everything right this weekend, it will still look to use this upcoming week to improve on its first serve percentage. While the Bears first serve percentage was low throughout the weekend, they were able to rely on their strong ground stroke play, albeit against weaker competition. Cal needs this figurer to improve if it wants to compete with the better teams in the country, as the level of competition is certainly going to improve when postseason play approaches.
Overall, the Bears did what they needed to do: win. They didn’t step off the gas, and they made a clear statement to the rest of the conference that they are playing some of their best tennis at the most pivotal point in the season. But now, the entire regular season comes down to one match at home next Saturday when the Bears host No. 10 Stanford for the Pac-12 championship. With a sold out crowd expected for this rivalry match, the Bears will look to deny Stanford from repeating as regular season champions. All in all, the team once again demonstrated its ability to rebound after a weaker performance the last time out.
Praveen Kuruppu covers women’s tennis. Contact him at