The Cal women’s tennis team zoomed into the Pac-12 Championships in Ojai, Calif., on a seven-game winning streak and with as much momentum as anyone.
They leave in a much different situation.
Zsofi Susanyi, the No. 5 player in the nation, left her third singles match of the weekend with an injury. Susanyi was battling a hip flexor injury all spring that kept her bouncing in and out of the lineup from week to week.
The details and extent of her injury are unknown at this time — she may have reaggravated her hip or be suffering from something else entirely. But if she misses significant time, it will be a huge blow to a Cal squad that had just begun to find its groove with its star player back in the lineup.
Cal also had two other players in the main singles tournament — Anett Schutting and Klara Fabikova. The two met in the third round of matches, with Schutting taking down the freshman Fabikova, 6-2, 6-4.
Schutting then advanced to take on Krista Hardebeck of Stanford in the semifinals but lost, 6-4, 6-2.
Schutting also competed with her partner Lynn Chi in the doubles championships, where the story was similar. In that tournament, Schutting and Chi were also able to advance to the semifinals but lost to USC’s top duo of Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria, who were the top-seeded team coming into the the tournament.
The bright spot of the tournament for the Bears came in the doubles invitational tournament — essentially the tournament for the doubles teams aren’t able to make the main event.
In that tournament, the doubles duo of Annie Goransson and Cecilia Estlander were able to reach the finals. Estlander has rarely played in the spring due to injuries, and the duo had never actually played together before, but they were able to shine.
To get to the finals, Goransson and Estlander had to defeat the top-ranked duo of USC’s Gabi Desimone and Danielle Lao in a 9-7 thriller.
After that, they quickly advanced to the finals and faced the third-seeded duo of Calli Craig and Sarah Pham out of Utah. This match went to the wire. Both teams traded points back and forth until Goransson and Estlander fell 9-8(5) in a tiebreaker.
With that loss, the Bears fell short of their goal of taking home a championship in both of the tournaments.
But the real loss is losing Susanyi. Several Cal players admitted that finally having her back at full strength gave them a boost in confidence. Their confidence has to be taking a hit with Susanyi out yet again.
The good news for the Bears is that they have a week off for Susanyi to get healthy. The NCAAs are the last games that Cal will play all year, but that doesn’t start until well into May. Depending on the extent of her injury, Susanyi could make it back by then.
But tennis is a game of rhythm. Any player who comes back from time off needs matches to get into the groove again — a luxury Susanyi won’t have.
With Susanyi once again missing time, the Bears are left in the same place they were in at the beginning of the season — searching for a way to win without their top player.
Riley McAtee covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected]