Coming to college from another city is challenging. It can be scary to leave the comforts of home and adjust to a completely different atmosphere. With that in mind, think about moving across the world to another country and the emotional toll that it may have on an individual. While at the time it appears incredibly daunting, eventually everyone finds the place they can call home, even if it might require a few moves in between.
For the Cal men’s tennis team (18-6, 5-1), it was two Swedes that came as freshmen four years ago, and one Frenchman from Mississippi State two years ago, who would find their home at Berkeley. Now seniors, the combined efforts of Filip Bergevi, No. 49 Andre Goransson and No. 14 Florian Lakat during their time at Cal have proven to be invaluable.
Cal’s Saturday matchup against No. 15 Stanford (14-7, 4-3) featured the perfect ending to the seniors’ last regular season match as Bears. Usually faceoffs between the two rivals come down to the wire and end with a score of 4-3. But from the start, this match was different. There was an extra sense of focus, determination and calmness that seemed to be radiating off of the players.
Cal’s success all started with doubles. In a thrilling set that ended in a tiebreaker, the No. 2 pair of Lakat and Bergevi clinched the doubles point by defeating No. 61 duo of junior Tom Fawcett and senior Yale Goldberg, 7-6(2).
“Filip has all the gifts: great serve, groundstrokes and volleys,” said Cal head coach Peter Wright. “I think he’s poised again going into the postseason, playing the best tennis that he’s played all year.”
The Bears carried that energy into singles. The ever-dependable Goransson was the first to win on court two, defeating his opponent sophomore Sameer Kumar 6-4, 6-2.
“Andre finds a way to win matches in singles and doubles,” Wright said. “think the guys really respect that. He’s so physical, he’s so mentally tough that he just refuses to lose and I think that’s one of the qualities that makes him one of the team leaders.”
J.T. Nishimura followed, winning 7-5, 7-5. Cal was leading on the four other singles courts, with Lakat finishing off his match to give Cal the sweep.
“When you look at Florian, you look at a guy who loves the spotlight, he loves the pressure and he thrives on it,” Wright said. “He’s one of the guys who really encourages guys in the face of pressure to face it and to enjoy it and look at it as a privilege to be out there and to embrace the challenge.”
After winning the first set and losing the second set, Lakat overpowered No. 11 Fawcett with his signature big serves and forehands. As soon as he won his last point to clinch the match, all of his teammates rushed to court one and joined together, jumping up and down in celebration.
As if Bergevi, Goransson and Lakat hadn’t already left enough of an impact on the team, Cal had just destroyed the Cardinal 4-0. The Bears ended their regular season with a bang, and it seems safe to say that their success in the postseason will be limitless with those three at the helm.
Taylor Choe covers men’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected]