3 of 4 Cal women’s tennis players advance to round of 32 in NCAAs

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The Cal women’s tennis team fought tooth and nail all season beating some of the best players in the nation to win the Pac-12 title and make it to the round of 16 at the NCAA Tournament. Against this same top-tier talent, the Bears again proved their dominance, with three players moving on to the second round at the NCAA Singles Championship.

The postseason continued for four Bears on Wednesday morning, when Anett Schutting, Zsofi Susanyi, Denise Starr and Lynn Chi competed in the singles championship at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. Only Starr was unable to move on to the second round in Athens, Georgia.

Playing in the first set of matches, No. 18 Schutting (27-12) matched up against Texas A&M freshman Saska Gavrilovska (20-7). Schutting initially struggled against Gavrilovska’s heavy, powerful forehand but was able to pull out the first set, 6-4. The Cal senior’s experience proved the difference-maker in the second set after she found an effective game plan to use against her relatively inexperienced opponent. Schutting got more and more aggressive as the match progressed and kept Gavrilovska out of rhythm, using a variety of shots at opportune times to take the second set, 6-1. Schutting will face Danielle Collins in the second round.

“The girl was good, and Anett had to work, but she played well today,” said head coach Amanda Augustus. “She’s happy to get that first win under her belt.”

While Schutting prevailed in her match, Starr struggled in hers against Duke’s Emily Goldfeld. Starr had a miserable day on the court, hitting unforced errors in addition to serving poorly all match. Goldfeld proceeded to handily dominate the match, 6-3, 6-1.

“She had a good year and will likely finish in the top 30, which will set her up for next fall,” Augustus said. “If you look at her record, she had a very solid first year.”

While the other Bears’ matches all ended in two sets, Chi fought and ultimately prevailed in three sets against Michigan’s No. 9 Emina Bektas, 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-1. Chi dropped the first set, but after talking to associate head coach Cordell Ho, she came back to narrowly win the next set in a tiebreaker. Conditioning played a major part, as Chi took advantage of Bektas as her energy faded down the stretch of the third set. With her victory, Chi will play Kentucky’s No. 47 Nadia Ravita on Thursday.

“The biggest key was she never gave up and was able to pull out the victory,” Augustus said to Cal Athletics. “That was a great win for Lynn today. That’s definitely one of her top wins so far. One match at a time, but obviously a win over a top-10 opponent bodes well.”

No. 23 Susanyi, however, had a much easier time in her match upsetting Texas A&M’s No. 10 Cristina Stancu, 6-0, 6-4. Stancu is known for hitting big and heavy shots, but Susanyi’s playing style is perfect for playing against more powerful opponents. Susanyi negated Stancu’s devastating forehand by varying the height of the ball and timed her opportunities perfectly with drop shots, slices and slams. In the second round, Susanyi squares off against Georgia State’s No. 22 Abigail Tere-Apisah in Thursday’s second round.

“It was really great for them to get back on the courts,” Augustus said to Cal Athletics. “We had a few days to rest a little bit and practice, but they were all excited to start the singles tournament today. We got to play early, which was nice, and not have to wait around too long. Overall, we had a good first day of matches.”

Winston Cho covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected]