Jansen, Manasse fall in semifinals of doubles tournament

Julian Kilchling/File

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Graduate student Maya Jansen has never been a stranger to the grand stage during her collegiate career. Before becoming a Bear this season, Jansen had already won back-to-back national championships in doubles at the University of Alabama. Jansen had consistently thrived on the court with the pressure was on, but the atmosphere of the semifinal round at the NCAA doubles championship was drastically unlike that of the two-time national champion’s previous matches.

Jansen wasn’t just fighting for a chance at her third national championship; she was fighting for the opportunity to battle with a familiar face for that illustrious prize. In 2014 and 2015, Jansen and current Alabama senior Erin Routliffe were partners and won back-to-back championships at Alabama.

Two years after being a teammate to Routliffe, Jansen stepped on the court knowing a victory against the No. 18 duo of sophomore Francesca Di Lorenzo and senior Miho Kowase from Ohio State University would set her up with a rematch against her former teammate.

Right by Jansen’s side was senior Maegan Manasse, the graduate student’s new partner in crime on the court. A national championship victory in doubles last season eluded Manasse as she lost in the championship round, but with an experienced postseason veteran in Jansen who knew how to navigate the road to a championship, Manasse had the opportunity to finish her unfinished business.

The No. 34 duo of Jansen and Manasse wouldn’t get a crack at the title and fell to Di Lorenzo and Kowase 6-2, 6-3, officially ending their season and collegiate careers. Di Lorenzo and Kowase would go on to meet and defeat the No. 5 Alabama pair of Routliffe and freshman Maddie Pothoff in the championship.

Manasse did not have had the opportunity to claim a national championship for the first time in her career, but she was able to enjoy the consolation prize that came with defeating the No. 20 pair and defending national champions junior Brooke Austin and senior Kourtney Keegan from Florida.

Austin and Keegan defeated Manasse and then-Cal junior Denise Starr in the championship last season, but with a new partner in Jansen, the Bears took down the Gators 7-6 (3), 6-2 to advance to the semifinals against the Buckeyes.

Jansen and Manasse defeated the No. 10 University of Missouri duo of junior Amina Ismail and senior Bea Machado Santos 6-2, 6-2 in the round of 32. Upon advancing, the Bears beat the No. 22 North Carolina State pair of senior Martina Frantova and freshman Anna Rogers in the round of 16.

Manasse, ranked 34th in singles, did not enjoy the same success in the singles tournament and could not advance past the round of 64, but teammate junior No. 10 Karla Popovic reached the round of 16 before being eliminated from the tournament. Popovic bested No. 56 senior Katarina Adamovic of Oklahoma State 6-4, 6-0 in the round of 64 and No. 49 sophomore Ingrid Gamarra Martins from the University of South Carolina 6-0, 6-3 in the round of 32.

Justice delos Santos is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jdelossantos1