Cal’s road swing ends with trip to northwest

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When the Cal women’s tennis team flew through Reno, Nev., after matches against Colorado and Utah, it dawned on the group that it would soon achieve an impressive feat: visiting six Western states in nine days. Bears coach Amanda Augustus said the team was on “the grand tour of the Pac-12.”

The excursion will conclude this weekend, when No. 9 Cal (9-4, 2-0 in the Pac-12) travels to Seattle to play Washington on Friday, and then heads over to Eugene, Ore. for a meeting with the Ducks Saturday.

Although Cal has already trumped the Huskies (6-4, 0-1 Pac-12) this season, Friday’s match will likely be the toughest challenge of the weekend. The Huskies will end a seven-match homestand with Friday’s 1:30 p.m. meeting, although the team has not played since March 4, when it dropped a hotly contested 5-2 decision to Stanford.

The Huskies are led by their All-American sparkplug Denise Dy, who is ranked 10th in the country. Dy, a San Jose, Calif., native who Cal pursued out of high school, has been a thorn in the Bears’ side this season, posting wins over top Cal players Jana Juricova and Zsofi Susanyi.

“Denise is one of my favorite players in college tennis,” said Cal coach Amanda Augustus. “I really appreciate how hard she competes and how much she loves the game.”

Friday’s match may also mark Juricova’s return to action after missing the last six matches with a lower back strain. Although Juricova had been practicing, Cal coaches were taking a cautious approach with her return.

On Saturday, an hour’s flight away, Cal will face an Oregon team that is entering a dreaded time of the season – Pac-12 play. The Ducks (8-2, 0-1) have been locked towards the bottom of the conference in the recent past, although newly added Colorado may not even muster one conference win.

Oregon, too, will be finishing a seven-game streak at home in which the squad has won five of the first six matches; the Ducks lost 6-1 to Stanford in their only conference match to date. The Ducks’ record may be deceptive, though, as they have feasted on the ranks of local mid-majors. For instance, Oregon scored a 7-0 victory over Portland State, which currently sits at the bottom of the lowly Big Sky conference.

Because of the rain that has swamped the Pacific coast, both matches over the weekend will likely be played indoors, presenting a new challenge for the visiting Bears. The indoor game presents shorter points and usually leads to flatter shots being hit, which Cal has been trying to adjust to with a week of indoor practice.

“If they are really dictating the ball, then we have to learn how to dictate back effectively and take over the point,” Augustus said.