Guide to this weekend’s Pac-12 women’s tennis title round robin

Michael Gethers/File
The return of senior Jana Juricova could push Cal over the top this weekend.

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The race for the Pac-12 women’s tennis title is on. Here is a handy guide — complete with predictions ­— for following the first stage of the round robin this weekend.

Friday, April 13

No. 1 UCLA at No. 10 California

1:30 p.m., Hellman Tennis Center, Berkeley, Calif.

When the two teams met on Feb. 24 in Los Angeles, Cal had Anett Schutting points away from the win, with the serve. And while the Bruins’ Pamela Montez stormed back to capture the final two sets, the match was the closest UCLA has come to losing this season. In Friday’s meeting, Cal has a few advantages: the Bears are 8-1 at home this year, and will likely have Jana Juricova back in the lineup. Combined with the much-improved play of Schutting and Annie Goransson in the middle courts, I expect Cal to win at least four singles matchups to push the team over the top.

Cal 4, UCLA 3

No. 4 USC at No. 6 Stanford

1:30 p.m., Taube Family Tennis Center, Stanford, Calif.

Although athletic department websites are known for their political correctness, a writer at GoStanford.com could not help but issue a bold statement on the eve of this match: “It’s highly doubtful there are five teams in the nation better than unbeaten Stanford.” Much to the chagrin of the rest of the Pac-12, it would be hard to disagree with this statement. Although the Cardinal’s streak of seven straight shutout victories will likely come to an end, it would be hard to envision the Trojans pulling off what would be considered a historic upset.

Stanford 5, USC 2

Saturday, April 14

No. 4 USC at No. 10 California

Noon, Hellman Tennis Center, Berkeley, Calif.

When the Trojans take the court this weekend for singles, it will likely be with at least three freshmen. And although this young group (led by top-court dynamo Zoe Scandalis) has posted quality victories over North Carolina, Cal and Texas, the addition of Juricova to the Cal lineup will likely put Cal on the winning side of a 4-3 decision. Especially critical will be the doubles point, as the Bears will look to take a 1-0 lead again, meaning they only have to notch three singles victories against a deep USC side.

Cal 4, USC 3

No. 1 UCLA at No. 6 Stanford

1:30 p.m., Taube Family Tennis Center, Stanford, Calif.

This marquee matchup will likely lose some luster if the Bears manage to hand UCLA their first loss the day before. Regardless, Stanford has the advantage of playing a talented Bruins squad on the back end of a back-to-back. The key storyline of this match will take place on the back two courts, one of the only places where Stanford has shown weakness this year. The Bruins will have to win on courts five and six if they want to remain alpha dog in the Pac-12, but the home court advantage will likely be enough for the Cardinal to prevail.

Stanford 4, UCLA 3