Cal women’s tennis takes doubles title in Fall Invitational

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Catherine Wallin/File

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Friendly fire rightfully has a bad connotation, but in the case of this weekend’s Cal Fall Invitational; however, friendly fire was anything but hostile. The end result was just as Cal head coach Amanda Augustus wanted it — a finals matchup between a pair of her doubles duos testing each other in an early season showdown.

The 8-5 win for the duo of senior Karla Popovic and junior Olivia Hauger against freshmen Anna Bright and Vivian Glozman capped off a weekend full of hard-fought matches from the Bears, who hosted a tournament featuring 12 teams at the Hellman and Channing Tennis Courts.

While Popovic — the No. 5 singles player in the nation — will wait until next weekend’s ITA All-American Championships to make her singles debut this year, she and Hauger breezed through opponents from USF, BYU, UCLA and finally, their fellow teammates.

“(Bright and Glozman) are doing great because they’re working really well together,” Popovic said.

On the singles side, Hauger handled Pacific’s Karina Vyrlan and UC Davis’s Lani-Rae Green before stumbling to UCLA’s Alaina Miller 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-2. Hauger, the overall No. 75 singles player, will have to bounce back next weekend as she joins Popovic in Los Angeles for the ITA’s while the rest of the team squares off at the St. Mary’s invitational in Moraga.

Prior to Sunday’s finale, the team’s newest members were on a mission to achieve their first match victories. The series of battles kicked off for the Bears on Friday as Bright and Golzman achieved their first collegiate win against BYU’s Madeline Almeida and Samantha Smith, setting the tone early for the rest of Cal’s doubles teams. Freshman Jasie Dunk and junior Maria Smith collected Dunk’s first win over a duo from Santa Clara. A couple of hours later, Dunk bested Santa Clara’s Elvena Gevargiz for her first singles win as a Bear.

Despite Hauger’s early exit in the quarterfinals, the younger Bright battled through back-to-back matches in doubles and singles to reach the semi-finals. Just after losing in the doubles championships, she stepped in against her second UCLA opponent in as many days.

She outlasted redshirt sophomore Jada Hart in a back-and-forth quarterfinal 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-2, setting up an early morning Sunday showdown with fellow freshman Abi Altick. While it’s just one tournament, the fact that she competed round for round and then some with Hauger is a sign of things to come.

“Bright did really great to make it to the semis in the top flight in her first college event,” Augustus said. “I think we can be a little more aggressive in our singles play but with she and (Golzman) I think we saw some really encouraging signs.”

Breathing hard and pumping herself up with a healthy dose of “Come on Anna, here we go” utterances as the sun rose higher and higher above Hellman’s court one, Bright fell just short to Altick, but put an exclamation point on an otherwise successful weekend for the Bears. Given that it’s tournament No. 1 for Cal’s trio of freshmen, there’s a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks, and years, for the Bears, even with the looming departure of Popovic next season.

There’s nothing like a little friendly fire early on, as Popovic and Hauger will have to get used to seeing Bright, Golzman and the rest of the team improve each and every week. While not every Bear came on top this weekend, Sunday’s finale assured that the tournament was a competitive, if not entirely friendly event.

Josh Yuen covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].

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