By playing well late in matches and winning in several third sets, the Cal women’s tennis team was able to capitalize on its endurance and win its third-straight match on Sunday against San Diego State.
The No. 15 Bears moved to 8-4 on the season, including winning five of their last six, when they convincingly beat San Diego State 6-1 on Sunday at the Aztec Tennis Center in San Diego.
The most impressive performance in the victory was Annie Goransson’s 6-0, 6-0 win over San Diego State’s Michela Casanova on the sixth court. Goransson is returning from a back injury that sidelined her for the first month of the season.
This is her third match into her return, and she’s won every match in convincing fashion since she’s been back.
“She has three years of playing a lot of matches for Cal,” said Cal coach Amanda Augustus. “So she knows what it takes.”
The team has been easing Goransson back into the lineup, which explains her play on the sixth court and her absence from doubles over the last two weeks.
With the kind of impressive wins she has had recently, her return to full action could be close.
Not every player dominated like Goransson, however.
Though lopsided, the match was not without its moments of drama. Freshman Lynn Chi was pushed into a third set for the second match in a row and pulled off a late victory. Her win gave Cal its fourth point and sealed the victory for the Bears.
Junior Anett Schutting was also pushed into a third set. After winning her first set but dropping her second, Schutting found herself to be the last Bear standing as she faced San Diego State’s Julia Wais.
When she finally won the third set, 6-2, the match was over, and Cal had a 6-1 victory.
Klara Fabikova, Tayler Davis and Tami Nguyen all won their matches in straight sets for the Bears. Cal took two of the three doubles matches to clinch the doubles point.
The advantage for the Bears in the nearly four-hour match was their endurance. Whenever a match lasted for a while or went into a third set, Cal was able to capitalize.
“There is no time element in tennis, so you have to be able to stay out there as long as you need to in order to win the match,” Augustus said. “Generally when you play other top teams, the matches are close, they last three sets.”
This preparation for long matches is mental as well as physical.
“You know you can make any adjustments if needed,” Augustus said, “in case you start out slow or the girl comes out and plays tough against you.”
Against San Diego State, those preparations came into use as the Bears found themselves up against an aggressive team that wasn’t going to go down without a fight. The Aztecs consistently played close to the net, and in response, the Bears changed the pace of the match.
Those adjustments that Cal made on each court proved to be key, as the team played better in later sets on almost every court.
“Some matches, you can just try different things and see what works,” Augustus said.
Riley McAtee covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].