The Cal women’s tennis team usually plays two matches every weekend, but when it travels south to take on San Diego State on Sunday, the Bears will be in the abnormal position of only playing once.
The situation is so rare that senior Tayler Davis does not remember it having happened before in her time at Cal.
“This is actually our first time, I think, just going to play one match,” Davis said. “It is weird to go one day and leave the next day, because normally we’re there for three days.”
Cal coach Amanda Augustus agrees that the situation is out of the ordinary, but she is determined to take advantage of it.
“It’s a little bit unusual, but it has allowed us to have a little heavier training week with our off-court work,” Augustus said. “We were actually able to do a little bit more conditioning, some sprinting, some things that if you were playing a ton of points where you’d be going back and forth you’d do already.”
No. 15 Cal (7-4, 2-0 in the Pac-12), will be heavily favored over a San Diego State (6-3) team that ranks outside of the top 50. While the Aztecs are coming off of three straight wins, they have not faced any ranked teams in that stretch, and their overall record has been bloated by relatively easy opponents.
While this should be a routine match for the Bears, the lighter workload does change things a bit for the squad.
One of the advantages to tennis is that the teams have the opportunity to play a lot of matches. If a player does poorly in one match, often she can come back the very next day with a chance to work on her mistakes and redeem herself.
While this could be a frustrating change of pace for the team, the longer week of practice will give players a chance to work on specific areas in which they feel they need to improve.
“We’re still working on our ball movement, we’re working on our overheads, we’re working on our serves in doubles as well,” Augustus said. “We like small adjustments and a little extra emphasis because there’s so many things in tennis you can work on.”
The lighter load should also give the Bears a chance to get healthy. This year, several Bears have been dealing with minor and major injuries alike, from Alice Duranteau’s nagging ankle problems to Annie Goransson’s back injury that kept her sidelined for the first month of the season.
“It kinda allows the couple girls that we have that are nursing small injuries to get healthier.” Augustus said. “So that’s a good thing.”
If the Bears can finally overcome their health issues and return to full strength, this lighter week could benefit them for the rest of the season.
And with the extra time, the players are looking to relax a little when they arrive in San Diego. Tayler Davis already has the forecast on her mind.
“We were looking into the zoo, or SeaWorld, or maybe the beach, because I think it’s supposed to be sunny — 78, I think,” Davis said, smiling. “So we’re looking forward to getting a little tan.”
Riley McAtee covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected]