As the first player in Cal women’s tennis history to win both the NCAA Singles and Doubles titles, Jana Juricova can make her case as the best player to ever represent the Bears.
Last season was by far the most productive of Juricova’s three decorated seasons at Cal. After finishing at the top ranking in both singles and doubles, she won the Pac-10 Doubles Championships alongside partner Mari Andersson. Four weeks later, she defeated Stanford’s Stacey Tan on her home court in the NCAA Singles title game.
Despite excelling in individual competitions, Juricova was unable to carry the Bears in this year’s NCAA Team Championships. After losing to Duke in the 2009 NCAA Championship game, Cal (18-7, 6-2 in the Pac-10) has failed to advance to the quarterfinals for two consecutive years.
“I was hoping for more (in the NCAA Team Championships),with the work that we put in this season,” Juricova said. “We are going to learn from this year’s tournament and we will figure out what steps we need to take.”
With one more year more chance to place that elusive NCAA Championship trophy next to her Singles and Doubles titles, Juricova faces one big challenge: For the first time in three years, she will not play alongside Andersson in doubles.
Juricova and Andersson has developed one of the nation’s most effective doubles partnerships, winning the 2009 NCAA Doubles title. Having a elite doubles pair up front is key to winning the doubles point, creating a point advantage as the teammates play the singles. This season, the Bears posted a 1-7 record when they lost the doubles point.
Although there are many alternatives to fill in for Andersson’s slot, there will be an audition this summer to find the perfect fit to Juricova.
“That will be my summer project,” Cal coach Amanda Augustus said. “Whoever it is has big shoes to fill.”
Barring injuries, slumps, or chemistry problems with the new partner, Juricova will remain as one of the top singles and doubles players in the nation next season. But having reached the top as a singles and doubles player, she is more concerned about bringing the first NCAA title to Berkeley.
“Everybody in our team will lead each other to the ultimate goal: winning the NCAAs,” Juricova said. “It will be nice to have one more title before I finish.”
Image source: Connie Chen/Daily Cal