It is a proud moment for tennis coach Amanda Augustus when the Bears send more women tennis players to the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships — the most defining tournament of the year — than ever before. The tournament, which will run Thursday through Monday, will feature five of Berkeley’s top women’s singles and doubles tennis players. Those who did not qualify will compete in the Arizona State Thunderbird Invitational, which runs Friday through Sunday.
Of the five players competing in nationals, three will compete in the singles bracket, and two will compete solely in the doubles draw. In doubles, Klara Fabikova and Zsofi Susanyi automatically qualified with their win over Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr at the USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Championships. The duo enters the draw as the third seed. Manasse and Starr, seeded fourth, qualified later with an ITA wild card.
No Cal players achieved automatic selection in the singles. Susanyi, however, clenched an ITA wild card, while Lynn Chi and Manasse are at-large entrants. Manasse enters the tournament seeded No. 5, while Susanyi and Chi are unseeded.
Augustus said she is excited to showcase the largest number of Cal players ever sent to nationals and the improvements these players have made throughout the fall season.
“It’s an individual event, but because we have so many players there, it’s almost going to feel like a team event, so I think that will only make us compete better because we will have great support,” Augustus said.
The remaining players — Lyann Hoang, Stephane Lin and Karla Popovic — will compete in the Arizona State Thunderbird Invitational.
The two groups for the two different tournaments have been practicing separately. The players competing in the National Indoors event have been practicing on indoor courts in San Francisco, while the players partaking in the outdoor Arizona State tournament have continued to harness their skills on the outdoor courts in Berkeley.
“I think they have been working really hard on and off the court,” Augustus said. “It’s a little bit of an older group this year, so they have gotten used to what they need to do to be successful. When you have a lot of players with the same goal pushing each other, that’s going to lead to great results.”
Fabikova is proud to have automatically qualified for the doubles bracket alongside Susanyi. But she has remained humbled before the start of nationals.
“It was a really great feeling,” Fabikova said. “It’s not going to be on someone else to decide whether you actually get to go there or not. I think it was good that we knew a little bit earlier, so we could start practicing a little bit earlier, but once we get there, everyone has the same chance of playing and winning the tournament.”
Manasse, who will be competing in both the singles and doubles draws, has sharpened both her serves and volleys in preparation for nationals.
“I don’t really know that much about indoor courts since I’m from Southern California,” Manasse said. “The courts are a little bit faster, but there isn’t much of a change. We are all just going to try and do our best.”
Isabella Busacca covers women’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected].