The Cal women’s tennis team’s victory over the Cardinal on Saturday to secure the Pac-12 title cemented the Bears’ place in Cal lore. But this weekend, the Bears are in search of individual recognition at the Pac-12 championships.
Cal will travel to the Ojai Valley Athletic Club in Ojai, Calif., to compete in the Pac-12 championships, which excludes head-to-head team competition.
Last time out, the Bears accomplished a number of firsts by stomping rival Stanford in Palo Alto for the first time in 15 years to capture the Pac-12 title. The win secured an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament beginning May 9.
With the win over Stanford, all of Cal’s doubles teams have reached season-high rankings. The undefeated pair of Denise Starr and Maegan Manasse have gone 10-0 since starting conference play while the more seasoned duo of Anett Schutting and Lynn Chi having gone 12-6. The Bears have only lost the doubles point once since March 15, and all three of Cal’s doubles teams have the potential to make it to the finals of the Pac-12 championships.
“It’s a great opportunity for players to improve their individual ranking,” said head coach Amanda Augustus. “There’s no real team scoring at all. It’s kind of a nice transition into the postseason because we usually have someone that has a nice tournament there.”
For singles play, every Bear with the exception of No. 20 Zsofi Susanyi will be competing in the tournament. Augustus decided to sit Susanyi — who has had nagging injuries since the start of the season — to rest her for the upcoming NCAA championships.
“We’re just trying to get her as fully healed as we can before NCAAs,” Augustus said. “I’m confident she’ll be selected for the singles championship as well.”
Chi reached a season-high ranking at No. 25, with 12 straight victories. This tournament gives her the rare opportunity to face the top-ranked singles players on other teams. Despite playing on court four for most of the season, she has shown signs of being fully capable of competing against the best players in the nation.
“We’ve been playing a lot of tough matches, and we’ll see a lot of similar players,” Augustus said. “It’s a good opportunity for some players who play on two or three to play other schools’ No. 1. It’s a good opportunity to get some tough matches and improve individual rankings.”
For the first time this season, Cal’s top-ranked singles player is No. 19 Schutting, who made it to the semifinals of the same tournament last year. She is currently riding a 10-match winning streak and will see many of the same players she has faced in conference play at the Pac-12 championships.
“Its a great tournament,” Augustus said. “There’s a lot of tradition there. The former list of champions is pretty impressive — who have gone on to great careers — and it’s a well-run event.”
Winston Cho covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected]