No. 5 Cal women’s tennis dominates No. 46 Harvard

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Dominant — that would be the only way to describe the No. 5 Cal women’s tennis team’s performance against the Crimson on Sunday afternoon. Cal decimated No. 46 Harvard, 7-0, in a nonconference dual match at the Hellman Tennis Complex. This victory improved Cal’s record to 5-1, while the Crimson are now 4-3.

The match was the first of a three-match homestand for the Bears. They played their last three matches at the ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship where they fell to Georgia in the semi-finals.

The teams first played out eight-game, single-set doubles, from which Cal emerged victorious and secured the point. The 16th-ranked pair of senior Zsofi Susanyi and junior Klara Fabikova easily defeated the Harvard pair of Sylvia Li and Ellen Jang-Milsten with a score of 8-1. The Cal duo was imperious in the match, with some exquisite stroke play from both the players. Cal’s point was secured when the 8th-ranked pair of sophomores Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr trounced Monica Lin and Annika Ringblom, 8-2.

The team of Fabikova and Susanyi had worked on some areas of their game.

“I worked a lot on my poaching, as it was kind of missing at the indoor championship, and I think it looked pretty great today,” Fabikova said.

In the singles, Manasse showed why she is the top-ranked player in the nation, with an emphatic win over the Crimson’s Nikki Kalenberg, in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1. Manasse dictated the play for the entire duration of the match and overwhelmed her opponent with superb play at the net. No. 59 Denise Starr of Cal was also very impressive in her 6-1, 6-1 win over Amy He. Head Coach Amanda Augustus was very pleased with Starr’s win.

“Denise was the first win on the board. She played a really good, complete match and got the ball rolling,” Augustus said.

No. 34 Fabikova’s triumph over Lin guaranteed Cal’s overall victory in the dual match. The teams played out the remaining three matches, which were all won by Cal. No. 20 Susanyi again had a remarkable performance against Jang-Milsten, in which her balanced game, along with some astute net play, gave her a 6-2, 6-1 win over the Harvard player. No. 28 Karla Popovic also won in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1, while Cal senior Cecilia Estlander defeated Amanda Lin, 6-2, 4-6, 1-0(3) to complete a 7-0 victory for the Bears.

A return to home court as well as regular scoring seemed to be beneficial for the Bears’ confidence.

“We had such a great crowd today, and it was fun for the team to feed off it,” Augustus said. “Getting back outside and getting back to playing our traditional scoring format was really nice.”

The doubles victory was key to the whole performance as it gave Cal the required momentum to steamroll past their opponents. It also gave the players a confidence boost that was evident in their singles matches.

“We all kept our focus on the singles and didn’t let it get away from us,” Susanyi said.

Devang Prasad covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].