Cal women’s tennis team rolls through first rounds of NCAAs, advances to Sweet 16

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The Cal women’s tennis team’s Achilles’ heel this season has been its play in doubles.

But not anymore.

In two of their last three matches of the regular season, the Bears had to make a comeback in singles after dropping doubles matches and finding themselves in early 1-0 deficits. This included doubles losses to opponents like Arizona, who weren’t strong enough to even make the 64-team NCAA tournament.

The Bears’ top duo of Lynn Chi and Anett Schutting seemed to be clicking earlier in the year, when they won five straight doubles matches. But down the stretch, the duo was only 3-4 in their last 7 doubles matches of the season.

Match after match, it seemed like the Bears could only hang on in doubles by a thread and would often have to use their strong singles play to bail themselves out later.

But with their drumming of Auburn, 4-0, on Saturday at Hellman Tennis Complex, that may no longer be the case.

It was no surprise that No. 8 Cal cruised through Stony Brook, 4-0, on Friday. But Auburn, the No. 25 team in the nation, was supposed to give Cal a tougher challenge in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Instead, the Bears dominated and earned a trip to the Sweet 16.

Unlike in their usual sluggish starts in the regular season, the Bears exploded in doubles against Auburn. Tayler Davis and Kelly Chui jumped to an 8-1 win on court No. 3, and Anett Schutting and Lynn Chi — the same duo that was struggling just a few weeks ago — beat the No. 10 doubles team in the country with an 8-3 win on the top court to earn the doubles point for the Bears.

“I thought we were solid,” said Cal coach Amanda Augustus. “And then, on court No. 3, we had a really, really good day. That got us off to a great start.”

The Bears carried that momentum over into singles, where the Cal freshmen rocked Hellman Tennis Complex. Lynn Chi raced to a 6-0, 6-1 finish on court No. 4 to give Cal its second point of the match. Meanwhile, Cal’s other freshman, Klara Fabikova, dominated her opponent in a 6-1, 6-1 route.

The Bears needed just one more point to put the match away.

Seniors Tayler Davis and Annie Goransson were each up five games in their second sets, needing just one more game from either to seal the match for the Bears.

“Me and Annie were kind of in a race to see who would finish first,” Davis said. “(Assistant coach) Cordell was sorta joking with me to see who would finish first.”

Davis was able to beat Goransson in their race to finish off the opponent first, winning 6-3 on her court to give the Bears the four points needed to end the match.

It was a fitting end for the senior captain’s last match in Berkeley.

“I think a couple of them had a look up at the scoreboard and may have deferred to their senior captains a little bit,” Augustus said, smiling. “This is her big day.”

 

Watch an interview with co-captain Tayler Davis here

Riley McAtee covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected]