Intact for the first time this season, the entire Cal women’s tennis squad will head to the Northwest Regional Championships this weekend.
The annual tournament will be held 40 miles southwest of Berkeley at Stanford University’s Taube Tennis Center, and it will run from Friday to Tuesday. At stake are both regional tournament titles and automatic bids to the National Indoor Collegiate Championships in New York next month.
Though it is an individual tournament, the Regional Championships are more team-oriented than most other events in the fall. The tournament features a massive draw of 128 players from 17 different teams in the northwest region, and most schools send their entire roster to compete.
The Bears will not be an exception to this policy. In contrast to the past two weeks, all nine of Cal’s women’s tennis players will head to Stanford on Friday.
“I think this is a really great event because it gives everyone on the team the same opportunity,” said coach Amanda Augustus. “You know, it’s one big draw in singles and doubles, so literally everyone in the northwest region has the chance to successfully advance to the National Indoors in a few weeks in New York.”
The Bears’ full roster will feature freshmen Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr for the first time this season. The two players have yet to see any official college match play due to clearance delays from the NCAA, so this weekend will provide an interesting new look at Cal as the squad moves forward in the season.
“We’re looking at a couple different doubles teams now that our freshmen are all cleared and ready to go,” Augustus said. “I’m just excited to get them out on the court, get them some matches and also kind of see where they’re at to start the season.”
Manasse was given a five-star ranking from the Tennis Recruiting Network last spring and was ranked as the 13th-best recruit in the nation. As a junior player, the Redondo Beach, Calif., native saw success both in USTA and CIF events. Starr, hailing from the East Coast, joins Manasse as another five-star recruit.
With its focus on team support, the Regional Championships may prove to be a good place to inaugurate the season for the newcomers.
“When I was a freshman last year, it was really nice to see how other teammates can support me when I’m playing, so I think that’s the biggest thing that I’m looking forward to,” said sophomore Klara Fabikova.
Last year at the Regional Championships, Fabikova was one of many Bears to see late-round match play. Fabikova reached the semifinals of the singles draw against teammate Anett Schutting, who ultimately defeated Fabikova to advance to the finals. Meanwhile, Zsofi Susanyi made it to the quarterfinals, where she lost to eventual tournament victor Krista Hardebeck of Stanford. The Cal-Stanford matchups continued in doubles, where Lynn Chi and Fabikova fell to Stacey Tan and Ellen Tsay in the finals, 8-4.
The conference rivalry and inclusive nature of this weekend’s tournament make it a fall-season favorite among Cal’s coaches and players alike. It’s the kind of tournament that lights up the eyes of players when they talk about what they want to accomplish this weekend.
“It’s going to be the first time that we, as a team, are going to compete as a whole group,” Fabikova said. “We just really want to show everyone what we’ll be known for.”
Dani Coony covers women’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected].