Unable to tame the Tar Heels in round 16 at the NCAA tournament this weekend, the Cal men’s tennis team’s 2017 season has come to a conclusion.
The eighth-seeded Bears lost 4-1 to ninth-seeded North Carolina in the Sweet 16, ending their postseason run following strong victories over Tennessee Tech and Northwestern.
Cal started their match against UNC with a loss in doubles point, immediately falling into a hole. The Tar Heels struck first in doubles as their duo of sophomore Anu Kodali and senior Ronnie Schneider defeated freshmen Bjorn Hoffmann and J.T. Nishimura 6-1.
No. 74 pair of senior Andre Goransson and junior Billy Griffith defeated the No. 82 UNC duo of senior Jack Murray and freshman Simon Soendergaard 6-3, but the highly ranked No. 5 duo of seniors Florian Lakat and Filip Bergevi was upset by the No. 12 pair of freshman William Blumberg and junior Robert Kelly 7-6 (2) to seal doubles point for the Tar Heels.
“We had some match points in the doubles that might have made a whole difference in the match,” said Cal head coach Peter Wright. “We got behind early, but this team has a tremendous heart and we just never went away, and that is all I ask every time out.”
Junior Nishimura was the first to fall in singles, losing to Murray, 6-4, 6-3. The next to go was No. 61 Goransson who lost to No. 16 Blumberg, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.
Hoffmann provided the Bears with a bit of a spark and acquired Cal’s only singles win of the match, defeating sophomore Blaine Boyden 6-3, 6-0 in the second and third sets, respectively, after falling 3-6 in the first set.
The Bears were down 3-1 with their backs against the wall and still had the potential to mount a comeback, but Hoffmann’s contributions were too little, too late as No. 22 Schneider defeated No. 12 Lakat 6-4 in the first and third sets to solidify the 4-1 win for UNC.
“We love the competition and we love the battle,” Wright said. “You learn from this every time out and it’s a great experience. Maybe Athens isn’t going to be in the picture for a little bit, which is disappointing, but this facility has some tremendous memories for me and for our team.”
High spirits are not the only thing the Bears have to hold onto as Lakat, Bergevi and Goransson still have the opportunity to compete in the NCAA singles and doubles championships.
Goransson and Lakat will participate in singles while Bergevi and Lakat will participate in doubles. All of these selections came at an at-large basis.
The singles and doubles championships will run from May 25-30 at the Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, following the team tournament. University of Tulsa will host.
Team play may be over for Cal, but these championships will serve as one last chance for these three seniors to leave their mark on the world of college tennis.
Taylor Choe covers men’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected]