Bears win ninth straight as rivalry showdowns loom

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Following its loss to Stanford on March 2, the Cal women’s tennis team had a record of 6-4 and had lost four consecutive matches. To categorize the Bears’ play since that point as “bouncing back” would be a profound understatement

No. 9 Cal (15-4, 7-0 in the Pac-12) continued its roar back from the four-match skid with comfortable victories over top-30 opponents Arizona and Arizona State. The Bears have not trailed during their nine-match winning streak, and the 7-0 win over the Sun Devils is the team’s fourth shutout in five matches.

Playing Friday against the Wildcats (12-6, 2-3), Cal snatched the first five points, ensuring victory before dropping two third-set tiebreaks to make the final score 5-2. The doubles partnership of Annie Goransson and Anett Schutting maintained their personal eight-match win streak with an 8-5 win on the top court. Goransson and Schutting, Cal’s only ranked doubles duo, at No. 23, improved their record to 23-4 on the season.

The rainy forecast forced the Bears’ match against Arizona State (10-5, 2-3) to be pushed from Saturday to Sunday, but the extra day may have simply pushed back the inevitable. Playing shorthanded did not help the visiting Sun Devils, as a default on the third doubles court and on the sixth singles court gave Cal a 2-0 lead.

Senior Jana Juricova, who has battled injury problems all year, did not play in Friday’s match against Arizona yet appeared against Arizona State for a doubles victory. Juricova and Zsofi Susanyi have an 8-0 mark in doubles this season.

The Sun Devils, who ended last season ranked No. 18, showed little fight as four singles matches ended after two sets. Perhaps the most surprising of these results was on the top court, where No. 14 Susanyi steamrolled Jacqueline Cako, a blue-chip recruit who is ranked ninth nationally. The win was Susanyi’s third over a top-10 player.

Cal’s continuation of a bevy of impressive singles streaks over the weekend underscores the success the team has had over the last four weeks. Five Bears have winning streaks of eight or more matches; Schutting has reeled off 10 victories in the last month.

The streaks will certainly be put to the test soon, though. After getting this coming weekend off, Cal will host No. 1 UCLA and No. 4 USC on back-to-back days, beginning April 13.

A week later, the squad will drive south to Palo Alto to face No. 6 Stanford in their final match of the season. All four teams are undefeated in Pac-12 play, and the final two weekends will be akin to a round-robin tournament for the conference crown. Cal lost to all three teams earlier in the year, yet the matches were not designated as Pac-12 play, keeping the Bears in the title hunt.