Cal to face Bulldogs in ITA Indoors

Giana Tansman/Staff
Junior Carlos Cueto leads the Bears as they begin the ITA Team Indoor Championships.

Despite having not played for over a week, the Cal men’s tennis team is fully prepared to play in this weekend’s ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championships.

The last time the Bears played was in a 6-1 victory on Feb. 8 against Sacramento State. They had a game scheduled for Friday against Hawaii too, but it was canceled on account of rain.

The team had hoped to carry the momentum of two wins after two difficult losses in facing its first-round opponent, No. 4 Georgia. The Bulldogs (4-0) and Bears are two of the nation’s top teams that will be in Charlottesville, Va., this weekend for the prestigious tournament. Cal qualified for the competition for the first time since 2004 during the ITA Kick-Off Weekend by defeating LSU and San Diego.

Even with the long break, coach Peter Wright showed no concerns over the team’s ability to adapt and get back into game form. If anything, he views the break as beneficial to the team.

“We got a little bit of a break over the weekend, which is good,” Wright said. “Overall, our guys are ready to go, and they’re excited for the tournament. We would have liked to have played against Hawaii, but the circumstances didn’t allow for it. We’ve seen what the best teams have, and we know we can surpass that.”

That attitude will be crucial against the Bulldogs, who have no less than five ranked players, including seniors Wil Spencer (No. 3) and Sadio Doumbia (No. 10). Cal, on the other hand, has no ranked players in the top 25. The Bears do have the No. 5 doubles pair in senior captain Nick Andrews and junior Christoffer Konigsfeldt.

Konigsfeldt, who recently returned from the Davis Cup in Slovenia, has had little time to rest at home. Since arriving back, he’s had only three days to prepare before leaving again. Even so, he has no reservations about how Cal will perform.

“I practiced with the (Danish national team) and with professional players, and it was great preparation,” Konigsfeldt said. “I think we’re ready to take them on — we’ve got a strong team, and I don’t think there’s any team in the nation that we don’t have a chance against. I definitely believe we can beat Georgia.”

Cal hopes to offset a 20-year-long drought at the ITA Indoor Championships, last winning in 1989. Georgia more recently won in 2006 and 2007 but seeks to end four years of dominance by Virginia. The last time the Bears faced the Bulldogs in 2003, the Georgia won 4-0. The Bears own the all-time record, though, with a slight 3-2 edge. The Bears play the Bulldogs Friday, Feb. 17 at 9 a.m. Pacific Time. The winner will go on to face the winner of the No. 5 Florida –No. 12 Pepperdine matchup on Saturday.