When the going gets tough, the tough get going. That will be the mantra with which the No. 5 Cal women’s tennis team will be heading into with its match against Pac-12 rival, No. 11 USC on Friday at the Hellman Tennis Complex.
The Bears have been very impressive early this season and boast a record of 5-1 and are undefeated at home, 3-0. USC has been playing some good tennis and has an 8-1 record to show for it. The Trojans are coming off a 7-0 victory against No. 25 Texas, while the Bears are fresh off a resounding 7-0 win over No. 46 Harvard.
The Bears were majestic in their latest victory over Harvard with superlative performances from all the team members. USC, however, looks to be a tougher opponent. They have more ranked players in their roster than Harvard, and are also a top 15 team.
“Every time we play them, the matches are hard and long fought,” said head coach Amanda Augustus. “Matches on most of the courts tend to go to three sets.”
The Bears are confident about their chances and the recent victories seem to be beneficial for the team’s morale.
“We feel really good and are very excited about the match,” said senior Zsofi Susanyi. “It will be a good contest and we expect a good crowd too, which will be very nice.”
The doubles matchup will probably be the key to the overall match, as a victory in it will give Cal the required momentum to make a positive impact in the singles. In the match against Harvard, the doubles victory enabled the Bears to give an even stronger performance in the singles.
“I think the doubles will be important,” Augustus said. “We have been working hard on it. We have been working on our returns and being able to move the returns around whenever needed. The teams coming in this weekend will take more chances and will move more around the net, and we are trying to get ready for that.”
Sophomore Maegan Manasse, the top ranked singles player in the nation, will look to replicate her impressive performance against Harvard in the matchup with the Trojans. She was clinical in her singles match against Harvard’s Nikki Kallenberg and won 6-2, 6-1. No. 20 Susanyi will also be a key player in the matchup. She defeated Harvard’s Ellen Jang-Milsten, 6-2, 6-1, in the singles and along with junior Klara Fabikova, defeated Harvard’s team of Sylvia Li and Jang-Milsten, 8-1. Susanyi will look to do even better Friday.
“I think keeping more balls deep in the court will be important,” Susanyi said.
This matchup is a very important one for the Bears. The Trojans are a much better team than many of the opponents Cal has faced so far. The match will be a good test of the Bears’ credentials as well as their resolve. The Trojans have four ranked players — No. 22 Giuliana Olmos, No. 65 Zoë Scandalis, No. 72 Gabby Smith and No. 104 Madison Westby.
“It is a big match for sure. Our goal is to play a really challenging national schedule and we are very fortunate to play two traditional rivals that are also top ranked teams. We are very excited for this one,” Augustus added.
Devang Prasad covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].