Grand slam ends without Cal at top

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When the champion of the season’s first collegiate grand slam was crowned on Sunday in Pacific Palisades, Calif., the Cal women’s tennis team was 300 miles away.

After a disappointing showing at Riviera/ITA All-American Championships, head coach Amanda Augustus, sophomore Zsofi Susanyi, junior Anett Schutting, and seniors Tayler Davis and Annie Goransson were back in Berkeley Saturday night.

Despite hoping to bring home some hardware, Cal did not advance farther than the second round in Saturday’s matches, with its players losing to the other All-Americans.

The tournament, comprised of only All-Americans, featured a 32 player singles draw and a 24 team doubles draw.

“It was a little disappointing to not be there on the final Sunday, but that just gives us more motivation to work hard,” Augustus said. “It continues to light a fire under them.”

No. 5 Susanyi, who held the No. 2 seed in the singles draw, fought her way through the first round by defeating Texas A&M’s Cristina Stancu, 6-2, 6-1.

Although the score was close, Stancu challenged Susanyi as many of the points resulted in long rallies. Susanyi utilized different strokes to change the pace of the ball.

However, she was then defeated in the second round by Maho Kowase of Georgia in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1.

Despite the early exit, Coach Augustus did see some positives in Susanyi’s performance. The sophomore, who suffered an ankle injury at the end of last season, had been working her way back by getting in matches against top ranked opponents.

“She didn’t play as well as we could have liked,” Augustus said. “You only get match-tough by playing matches.”

The other Bear taking part in the main singles draw, No. 22 Schutting, came away with an upset victory in the first round of action against Michigan’s No. 6 Emina Bektas, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. Schutting was forced to fight off Bektas’ powerful serve, earning both of the breakpoints that she won in the last two sets.

“It was her first top-10 win,” Augustus said. “She stepped up on the national stage.”

Schutting would eventually fall in the second round on Friday, losing to Kansas State’s No. 14 Petra Niedermayerova, 6-4, 6-3. Struggling with her serve throughout the match, Schutting couldn’t keep up with Niedermayerova.

Also partaking in singles matches were seniors Taylor Davis and Annie Goransson, who both fell in the qualifying draw prior to the weekend. In the doubles tournament, the No. 3 duo of Goransson and Schutting lost their first match in the second round to Duke’s Beatrice Capra and Hanna Mar, 8-5.

While Capra blasted hard shots from the baseline, Mar was all over the net.

“They played a [Duke] team that was very similar to us,” Augustus said. “It took us a little by surprise.”

As the last of the Bears fell on Saturday, Augustus took solace in the fact that she had four Bears out there competing with the best.

“I think people know we have a deep team this year,” Augustus said.

Sean Wagner-McGough covers women’s tennis. Contact him at swagnerm