While the NCAA team championships are over, the Bears’ season is not.
The Cal women’s tennis team sent three players to the NCAA singles championships taking place May 22-27 in Urbana, Ill.
The Bears are represented by players who finished the season at the top three courts — Anett Schutting, Klara Fabikova, and Zsofi Susanyi.
Schutting played on the top court for Cal for almost the entire season and is the No. 8 seed in the tournament. However, on Wednesday, she fell in the very first round to Rice’s Natalie Beazant in a match that featured a 45-minute rain delay midway through.
“Anett got off to a bit of a slow start,” said Cal coach Amanda Augustus. “She struggled to find her rhythm, and unfortunately, she ran into a girl that was playing really well and just ran out of time before she could find her game.”
While the rain makes for an environment that is not ideal for tennis, Augustus does not think the weather affected Schutting’s play.
“The conditions are the same for everyone,” she said. “It’s just something, as a tennis player, that you have to work through.”
While Schutting exited early, Cal’s other players were able to advance during the first day of action.
Fabikova has been playing on the No. 2 court for Cal since April despite being a freshman. Like Schutting, she got off to a slow start at the beginning of her match, falling into a 5-2 hole against North Carolina’s Witney Kay.
Fabikova then ripped off five straight games to win the first set and cruised from there to a 7-5, 6-2 victory.
“Klara did a good job of making adjustments,” Augustus said. “There might have been some first-match nerves for her, with it being her first singles tournament.”
With the win, Fabikova will face Nebraska’s Mary Weatherholt in the round of 32. Weatherholt is the No. 11 seed and should present more of a challenge to Fabikova than Kay did.
The final player that made the tournament for Cal — Zsofi Susanyi — just might be the most exciting to follow. Though she has only been playing on the No. 3 court for the Bears, she comes into the tournament as the No. 5 seed. Susanyi was injured earlier in the year, and the coaches decided to bring her back on a lower court while her NCAA ranking remained one of the highest in the country.
Last year, a healthy Susanyi made it to the NCAA singles semifinals — the furthest ever for a Cal freshman.
On Wednesday, she flew through Caroline Rohde-Moe out of Ole Miss in a 6-3, 6-0 victory.
“Zsofi won her match pretty handily,” Augustus said. “She played really smart.”
Susanyi will play UNLV’s Lucia Batta tomorrow in the second round — another player she should be heavily favored over.
But the Bears know to not look too far ahead. The singles tournament is filled with upsets, as the No. 1 seed — Florida’s Lauren Embree — lost today in the first round.
“Everyone in this tournament had a phenomenal year, or they wouldn’t be here,” Augustus said. “You have to take it day by day.”
Riley McAtee covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected]