Bears make All-American comeback

After getting off to a rough start on the first day of main draw play at the ITA All American Championships, members of the Cal men’s tennis team pulled themselves together to make an unexpected comeback.

The No. 5 doubles team of Nick Andrews and Christoffer Konigsfeldt won the doubles consolation draw, though it took a demoralizing loss in Thursday’s main draw opening round to get to that second-rate flight.

“I am proud of our guys for bouncing back,” assistant coach Tyler Browne said. “We had one bad day, but we pushed through. At first they didn’t perform their best, but they flushed out all if the losses and just focused on improving.”

It appeared as if the Bears were off to a promising start leading up to the main draw rounds which began on Thursday at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla.

Sophomore Ben McLachlan fought his way through three qualifying rounds over the course of three days, defeating every opponent that stood in his way. He and his doubles partner Carlos Cueto also won all of their matches together. By the end of Wednesday’s play, McLachlan had earned himself a spot in both the singles and doubles main draw.

Everything appeared to be going swimmingly for Cal, until Thursday rolled around. All four Cal players lost that day.

After working so hard to enter the main draw, McLachlan lost in the first round to the Ohio State’s Chase Buchanan, the No. 5 player in the country. Seniors Cueto and Andrews both lost their singles matches in the main draw and consolation.

Both of the Bears’ doubles teams lost, including Andrews and Konigsfeldt, who fell, 8-5, to an unranked team from Tulsa.

“The other team played really well,” Andrews said. “They were from Tulsa so they knew the courts a little better but they really just played better than us.”

It appeared as if Cal had been defeated, with no chance of recovery. This was not the case.

Andrews and Konigsfeldt were entered into the doubles consolation pool on Friday. They broke an 8-8 tie to beat the No. 19 pair from Kentucky, 11-9. They then advanced to the quarterfinals where they bested the 23rd ranked twosome from Baylor.

Things were looking up at last.

On Saturday, the pair conquered a North Carolinian team in the semifinals, propelling the duo into the final round on Sunday.

The Bears’ comeback-kid saga came full circle in the finals when they clinched the doubles consolation title by beating the Buckeye’s McCarthy and Van Engelen, 8-5.

This may not appear to be a victory of much significance, but it holds great implications for the rest of preseason.

“The goal is to qualify for the ITA National Indoor Championships (held in November) and winning the consolation round allowed Nick and Chris to qualify,” Browne said. “Now we are looking to have some more of our guys qualify which we can do by performing well in the next ITA event.”