Cal men’s tennis overpowers opponents at Silverado Collegiate Invitational

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Debbie Yuen/File

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Cal men’s tennis came out swinging at the Silverado Collegiate Invitational this past weekend, with all players staying undefeated until the second day and eventually capturing the team title on Sunday.

Associate head coach Tyler Browne was pleased with the performance at the team’s opening fall tournament.

“This weekend went really well,” Browne said. “Going into the weekend as coaches we always have high expectations of players, and I think the guys met those expectations and exceeded them in a couple of different areas.”

The three-day tournament featured individual matchups in both singles and doubles between a variety of schools, highlighted by Cal, University of San Francisco, Oklahoma State and Pepperdine, just to name a few.

The Bears went 6-0, 5-1 and 5-1 in the first, second and third days, respectively, to finish 16-2 overall in their matches — good enough for the top-team finish. Sophomore Jackson Suh and junior Bjorn Hoffman went undefeated in their first action since last spring.

“This weekend was a success,” Hoffman said. “It was a nice weekend for everybody.”

For Hoffman, developing his doubles skills will be paramount this season. He and his partner Suh appeared to find their groove with a convincing 8-5 win against a USF pairing and a couple of other 8-3 victories elsewhere.

“Having played a lot over the summer, it’s nice to be able to come back and translate some of the things I learned over summer to these matches,” Hoffman said. “After the first doubles match we really warmed up.”

This tournament was also freshman Yuta Kikuchi’s first time representing the Bears on a tennis court.

“He did well, getting that first college win is never easy; he exceeded expectations,” Browne said. “In the long run, he has a lot of potential.”

Cal’s only losses to its record came in the second and third days of the tournament — a second doubles defeat to Oklahoma State and a Ben Draper loss in singles against Pepperdine’s Enrique Luque Rico, respectively.

Aside from those marks, Browne was impressed at how quickly each player was able to take mistakes from one day of the tournament and fix them before the next match on such a short notice.

“We’re all getting better,” Browne said. “I was pleased with the performance of the guys and how much they were improving over the course of the weekend.”

In addition to Hoffman and Suh winning all three of their matches, the doubles pairing of Kikuchi and Draper went 2-1. In singles, Suh, Hoffman and Kikuchi all finished 3-0, while Draper took down two of his three opponents.

This was an opportunity for the Bears to show what they learned last year with a young but talented roster. If this tournament is predictive of the rest of the season, Cal has the potential to be successful in the spring when team play starts.

Intercollegiate Tennis Association preseason rankings for singles and doubles are scheduled to be released Sept. 12, and while no official team polls will be made public until January, the Bears will return to the courts Sept. 20 for the Milwaukee Tennis Classic.

Trilok Reddy covers men’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].