No. 43 Cal men’s tennis prepares for nonconference doubleheader

Stephanie Li /File

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Cal men’s tennis is coming home this weekend to play two nonconference matches in what should be an easy 2-0 sweep for the No. 43 Bears. Cal is coming off two disappointing losses last weekend and is scheduled to face off against Nevada and Saint Mary’s in a Sunday doubleheader.

The Bears have had moderate success this season but really started showing promise two weeks ago when they began 2-0 in the Pac-12. Since then, they have been 4-0 at home overall.

“We actually showed that we’re a singles team, not just a doubles team, said men’s tennis director Peter Wright. “We’ve been getting a lot of publicity for how well we (are doing in) doubles. … We played well in singles, really high quality. Some of the best tennis I’ve seen in a long time was played by Yuta Kikuchi. … We got quality performances up and down the line from one to six in singles.”

Last weekend, however, the Bears faced a tough matchup against No. 6 Baylor and fell in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open Collegiate Tennis Challenge presented by Oracle. To make matters worse, Cal suffered its first unranked loss of the season to then-unranked Arizona State in a consolation match.

The tournament propelled the Sun Devils to No. 35 this weekend, while the Bears slumped from No. 31 to No. 43. In the most recent doubles rankings, two Cal duos also fell — Jacob Brumm and Kikuchi fell to No. 13, and Paul Barretto and Can Kaya dropped more than 45 spots to No. 79.

On Sunday, Cal will face Nevada at 10 a.m. and Saint Mary’s at 2 p.m. Both teams are unranked, and neither team has a ranked singles player or doubles pairing.

In Cal’s last matchup against Saint Mary’s earlier this month, the Bears effortlessly swept them 7-0. Since then, the Gaels have beaten Army, 5-2, and lost to then-No. 25 BYU. Nevada has started its season 6-2 with losses to UC Davis and No. 24 Oregon, and the Wolf Pack did beat Pacific, 4-3, and Saint Mary’s twice.

Of the teams that Cal will face Sunday, Nevada will definitely be the better of the two, but neither should be difficult for the Bears to defeat.

“This team is a good team and has the ability to go very, very far and very deep. We don’t know how far, we don’t know how deep, we’re just going to put our heads down. We’re going to work hard to get one day better and see where that takes us,” Wright said.

These will be some of the last nonconference matches for Cal this year, the only other being against UC Santa Barbara on April 8. So this will be one of the Bears’ last opportunities to experiment with their lineup, and they will have to get it right to win matches in a tough Pac-12 conference.

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