Last weekend was supposed to clear up the race for the Pac-12 title. Instead, things are just as confusing as ever.
When the No. 13 Cal women’s tennis team and No. 14 Stanford traveled south to take on No. 3 UCLA and No. 6 USC, respectively, it meant that the four powerhouse teams were finally meeting in conference play. Each carried an undefeated record into the weekend.
On Friday, the Bears (11-5, 5-1 in the Pac-12) were unable to replicate their victory over USC (17-2, 6-0) earlier in the season, falling to the Trojans 6-1. Meanwhile, the Cardinal shocked the higher-ranked Bruins across town.
The next day, Cal and Stanford switched places with the Bears now taking on UCLA (13-4, 4-2) and the Cardinal battling the Trojans.
Like the Bears, the Cardinal fell to USC 6-1 despite the success they had against the Bruins the previous day. And much like Stanford, Cal was able to upset UCLA in a nail-biter, 4-3.
Things looked good for Cal after winning the doubles point, but they came out slow in singles. UCLA won two of the first three singles matches to even the match at 2-2. On the remaining three courts, Cal lost each of the first sets. Things looked grim.
Then, Cal won its second sets, pushing each match into a third. Klara Fabikova won her third set, but Tayler Davis failed to do the same, and senior Annie Goransson found herself on the last court still playing in a fight for the match.
Despite falling 6-1 in the first set, Goransson was able to win the remaining two sets to clinch the match for the Bears. Cal’s improbable upset was complete.
UCLA had looked dominant all season, with only two losses all year. After two shocking upsets at home, they’re now just 4-2 in the conference.
To have a shot at the title now, they need Cal, Stanford and USC to lose a game.
For Cal and Stanford, the weekend was a mixed bag. While both were able to topple the Bruins, both were beaten badly by the lower-ranked Trojans.
However, both are in good position to claim the title if USC were to falter down the stretch.
The big winner of the weekend was USC. The Trojans proved that they could crush teams that the Bruins struggled against. They are now the favorite to win the conference.
And there’s still one team that can not be forgotten in this race — Arizona State. The Sun Devils, though only ranked No. 21, are 14-1 and 4-0 in conference play. They still have to face Cal, Stanford, USC and UCLA.
While the rankings indicate that they are still an underdog, Arizona State’s impressive record is enough to make them the dark-horse candidate to win the conference.
Despite its loss to USC, Cal’s performance was impressive.
The Bears were able to beat what was thought to be one of the best teams in the country, and they still have a legitimate shot at their first-ever Pac-12 title.
Riley McAtee covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected]