With a win last weekend over Stanford and a second-place finish in the Pac-12, the No. 9 Cal women’s tennis team is itching to begin the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments and prove itself against the nation’s best.
But before the players can do that, they have one last match to play.
Due to a scheduling quirk, Cal (15-5, 9-1 in the Pac-12) will take on UCSB in Santa Barbara at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Though the Gauchos (14-7) have put together a decent record over the season, their schedule has been filled with unranked and unaccomplished teams. Without a ranked player on the roster, they will have a tough chance competing against Cal, which has four ranked players and two in the top 10.
The match is an odd hiccup for the Bears in a schedule otherwise consisting of weekend matches. But the Tuesday match gives them a chance to hone their skills for the postseason. Two days after the UCSB match, the team will be in Ojai, Calif., for the Pac-12 Championships.
After the win over Stanford, the Cal team feels like it is close to peaking, and the players plan to use this UCSB match as a springboard to bring their level of play to its full potential.
“I think we’re finally gelling the way we need to,” said Cal coach Amanda Augustus. “Our goal is to peak in the (NCAA) Tournament.”
The match gives many of the players a chance to practice more in doubles, in which Cal has lost the doubles point in both of its last two matches. Zsofi Susanyi recently returned from injury, and her getting more playing time with her doubles partner, Klara Fabikova, should help the duo gel the way Augustus wants.
“(Susanyi and Fabikova) just need matches,” Augustus said. “Hopefully next week, they get a lot of matches doubleswise to just kinda get them better in sync.”
Those two in sync will be a huge asset for the team. The Cal team has been regularly facing 1-0 deficits going into singles play as a result of losses in doubles.
But while the Bears are struggling in doubles, they are dominating in singles action. The team has won at least four of the six singles courts in its last four matches. Cal has used that dominance to bail itself out of early deficits and win matches.
Susanyi back on the court is a boost for the entire team. As the current No. 5 singles player in the country, Susanyi at full strength gives the other players a leap in confidence.
“Now that we have Zsofi back, we can definitely see what is possible for us,” said senior Tayler Davis. “Because before, without her, I think we weren’t as confident.”
A win against UCSB would build off the momentum that Cal gained from beating Stanford and would send the team into the postseason with a six-game winning streak and as much confidence as any team in the field.
“I think we’ve prepared really well and worked so hard for a long time now,” said senior Annie Goransson. “We’ll just see how far we can take it.”
Riley McAtee covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected]