Cal women’s tennis ends with freshman Anna Bright standing last

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Catherine Wallin/File

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The word “bright” ignites many connotations. Whether it’s describing the vibrant nature of an object or the brilliance of an individual, bright is a primary indicator of good things to come.

After a fall season that saw the emergence of freshman Anna Bright on full display, it’s safe to say that the future of Cal women’s tennis is just that.

With senior Karla Popovic and junior Olivia Hauger falling in both doubles and singles early on in last week’s Oracle ITA National Fall Championships, it was the freshman who was the last Bear standing on the final day of the fall season. Although she fell short in her last match, there’s no doubt that Bright has joined Popovic and Hauger in the national conversation.

After getting swept in straight sets by Duke senior Samantha Harris on day one of the tournament, Bright rattled off three consecutive wins in the consolation bracket to reach Sunday’s consolation final.

Facing players from all over the country — including Wesleyan’s Eudice Chong, Baylor’s Theresa Van Zyl and Syracuse’s Gabriela Knutson — Bright had more to overcome than her lower ranking. All five of Bright’s opponents across four days were upperclassmen, but that didn’t faze Cal’s rising star one bit as she bested all three and improved to a stellar 16-3 record in singles heading into Sunday’s bout with Florida senior Anna Danilina, the No. 15 singles player in the nation.

“For Anna to make her way into the consolation final and be playing on the last day of the fall, beating a number of highly ranked players along the way, we’re all really excited to see where she’s at and the progress she’s made,” said head coach Amanda Augustus.

It was only fitting that Danilina, who lost to Popovic at the Riviera ITA All-American Championships earlier this fall, was the one to finally put Bright away. Roughly three hours after the first serve, it was the senior who triumphed in dramatic fashion, pulling away from Bright in the final set. But as an unranked, unfamiliar name to most of her opponents, Bright has done more than enough to gain national attention.

“Her record is stellar and I think when the rankings come out she’ll be rewarded for that,” Augustus said. “She had a fantastic tournament and is only going to keep improving.”

Less than 300 miles away from the National Tournament in Tempe, Arizona, the rest of the Bears were also putting their own final touches on a productive fall season. The ASU Thunderbird Invitational saw another tournament run by freshman Vivian Glozman, Bright’s doubles partner, who reached the consolation semifinals in the singles draw. Glozman, a future star in her own right, has also progressed this fall to a level that has her set up for future success.

With Bright at the national tournament, Glozman paired with junior Maria Smith for the doubles draw. The new tandem picked up an opening round win before losing a tightly-contest match to Illinois’ Jaclyn Switkes and Emilee Duong.

Looking ahead, the spring season will serve as a bridge between two eras of Cal tennis — Popovic’s final run coupled with the first exposure of dual-match play for the freshmen. With multiple tournament wins and a promising core intact, the Bears will head into the winter interlude anxious for the sun to rise on their bright future come springtime.

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

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