4 Bears to represent Cal women’s tennis at ITA Fall Nationals

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Nicholas Chun/File

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It’s no surprise that the term “champion” is reserved for a fraction of any given population. By definition, not many ever earn this title to their name.

Accordingly, only a handful of elite Division I players even qualify for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, or ITA, Fall National Championships every year. But as long as head coach Amanda Augustus has been at the helm, Cal women’s tennis has always been disproportionately well-represented. This year, a whopping four Bears, equivalent to nearly half of the total roster, have punched their ticket to the fall national championships — senior Olivia Hauger and sophomore Julia Rosenqvist for singles, and the pair of sophomores Jasie Dunk and Anna Bright in doubles.

“I think historically by having a lot of players in the tournament, that’s what has us in the mix as being one of the top teams in the nation,” Augustus said.

The quartet will hit the ground running Wednesday, with hopes of earning a spot in the final rounds come Sunday. Both singles and doubles will have only a single draw with consolation rounds, nearly identical to the ITA Regional Championships from just a few weeks ago. This year’s tournament, the second ever, will be held in Surprise, Arizona — last year, its home was Indian Wells, California.

All four Bears are well-positioned for a deep run at this pinnacle of the fall season. Hauger and Bright both participated in singles at the fall championships last year and have had stellar seasons to date. Hauger’s recent sprint to the singles semifinals at the ITA Regional Championships included an upset of Stanford star Melissa Lord, the No. 13 singles player in the nation. This will be the first ITA Fall Nationals for Dunk and Rosenqvist, but both have racked up numerous high-caliber wins this fall.

“I think both Olivia and Julia have had good falls thus far, and they really have the opportunity to be competing on the last day of the tournament,” Augustus said.

Bright and Dunk only recently emerged as a formidable force in doubles, but Augustus is undeniably excited about the pair. Just two weeks ago, the sophomore duo manufactured four wins to reach the doubles finals at the ITA Regional Championships, upsetting the No. 2 seed along the way, Oregon’s top pairing of Julia Eshet and Shweta Sangwan.

Of course, Cal has fostered championship-caliber competitors at the national level countless times before. Augustus herself won back-to-back NCAA doubles championships in 1998 and 1999 and then coached the Bears to their own back-to-back NCAA runners-up in 2008 and 2009. But that doesn’t mean things will come easy, fall or spring, rain or shine, 1998 or 2018.

“I think at these national events, everyone there is good, so you have to be ready to compete from round one,” Augustus said.

Augustus also voiced her fondness for the ITA Fall Nationals as a scouting device for teams Cal will face in the spring season. Top-ranked players from rivals Stanford, UCLA and USC will all be present. Because of this unrelenting level of competition, every athlete will need to maintain a consistent routine of recovery and preparation for the next day in order to achieve any inkling of success at all.

For the four Bears in action, this will be the final and, perhaps, loftiest event of the entire fall season. The coming days are crucial ones for the Cal women’s tennis program — especially because each one knows they have the ability to win it all.

Mitchell Horn covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].