‘Dawgs pounce early, bounce Cal in round of 16

After months of preparation for the NCAA tournament, Cal women’s tennis team’s hopes of lifting its first NCAA title fizzled away on Friday, as the Bears were edged out by Georgia, 4-3, at Stanford’s Taube Tennis Center.

After blazing past Boston University and No. 18 USC in the first two rounds in Berkeley, ninth-seeded Cal (18-7) headed to Stanford with hopes to redeem last year’s disappointing performance at the NCAA tournament.

There was no redemption.

After consecutive runs to the championship in 2008 and 2009, the Bears have failed to make it past the third round.

From the start, the match did not go the Bears’ way. Cal quickly lost its doubles point as the bottom two courts quickly went to Georgia — 8-1 and 8-2, respectively.

The Bears then made a huge push for a comeback in singles play. Down, 2-0, Cal came back to lead the Bulldogs, 3-2, with wins by Annie Goransson, Mari Andersson, and Marina Cossou. Tayler Davis at court No. 6 came close to closing the match — as she did against USC last weekend — but lost to Kate Fuller in a three-setter, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

With the match knotted at 3-3, all eyes were focused on the big match-up between top-ranked Juricova and No. 25 Chelsey Gullickson. The two have played each other four times in their careers — most notably in the 2010 NCAA Singles Championship, where Gullickson triumphed over Juricova for the national title.

In the third set, Juricova took a 4-1 lead over Gullickson, needing just two more points to advance the team to the quarterfinals. However, Gullickson came out on fire, winning five straight points to end Juricova’s perfect singles season and Cal’s NCAA title hopes.

Seung Y. Lee covers women’s tennis.