Rebuilding is a big part of sports, constructing a solid team after losing big names from the roster is something almost all teams have to go through. Cal men’s tennis entered that process this off-season with seven freshmen who represented the No. 1 recruiting class in nation. That process seems to be working out pretty well, and preseason tournaments show that it might not take long for Cal to compete for the top again.
“Clearly, we’re missing the leadership from our seniors last year,” said Cal head coach Peter Wright.
This weekend, senior Billy Griffith and freshman Jack Molloy had a tough competition in the ITA
Oracle Masters. Eighth-seeded Griffith lost to no. 1 seed junior Petros Chrysochos from Wake Forest in two sets, 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinal after easily topping his opponents in the first two rounds; 6-2, 6-2, and 7-6, 6-4. On the other hand, Molloy, the No. 11 seed in the tournament, lost to No. 6 seed junior Harrison Scott from Texas in three sets after taking the lead in the first, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
“We’re not too concerned about losses right now,” said associate head coach Tyler Browne.
In San Francisco, four Bears competed in Battle in the Bay. Only senior J.T. Nishimura defeated his opponent in the first round, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1, but he still fell in the next round, 7-5, 6-4. Sophomore Dominic Barretto and freshmen Jacob Brumm and Paul Barretto continued into consolation draw after their losses in the first round.
In that portion of the draw, a duo of freshmen gave hope to Cal for the future as Barretto lost in the quarterfinal in a tight match, 6-7, 6-2, 1-0(8), and Jacob Brumm went on to claim the title without losing a set.
“His (Brumm’s) hard work is really showing up,” said Nishimura about his teammate.
The Bears made big contributions in doubles as well. The teams of Brumm-Nishimura and Barretto-Barretto won their first matches 8-6 and lost their second 8-6, and 8-7, respectively.
Overall, Cal showed fairly good performance in most of their matches even though Brumm was
the only Bear that turned his performance into tangible results. Coaches always talk about constantly improving in the pre-season and the team seems to be doing just that.
“Each guy has shown that they’re committed to the program and committed to developing as
players … committed to their process,” said Browne.
After all, the Bears are a new, very young team trying to recover from losing three of their top
players from last year. With more freshmen in the roster than any other class (seven out of 13), the senior leadership of Nishimura and Griffith is looking forward to guiding this young team to success.
“We’re excited to finally have our chance to lead the team, to take what we learned have learned in the past from our captains,” said Nishimura.
We have yet to see if this team can tackle against the top schools in the nation for a championship run, but there is one sure thing, Bears trust the process.
Can Sariöz covers men’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].