No. 5 Cal women’s tennis welcomes No. 4 UCLA to Hellman Tennis Complex

Ryan Serpa/Staff

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In a match that can be surmised as a clash of titans, the No. 5 Cal women’s tennis team will face No. 4 UCLA on Saturday at the Hellman Tennis Complex. Both the teams are Pac-12 rivals, and this match has all the makings of a classic, especially considering the high-quality players on both teams.

The Bears have been giving strong performances this season and have been looking like they are in top form with their strong play on the court. Their record currently stands at 5-1 with an undefeated home record of 3-0, while the Bruins have a record of 6-1. Cal goes into this matchup a day after it plays USC at the same venue.

The Bears’ latest victory came against No. 46 Harvard with a scoreline of 7-0. Cal was impressive in this massive victory, with almost all of the matches being won in straight sets by the Cal players. The Bruins are coming into the match on the back of a victory against No. 17 TCU and will also be playing St. Mary’s a day before the clash with the Bears.

The Bears have been working on various facets of their game in order to prepare for this clash, as well as for the whole season. They will be looking to win the key doubles point that will give the team positive momentum and confidence for the singles matches. The doubles matches will be tougher, as UCLA will be more adventurous at the net than Cal’s previous opponents have been.

“We have been working on our doubles game as well as singles,” said head coach Amanda Augustus. “We have been working on our serves, especially the placement of our first serves in singles.”

Sophomore Maegan Manasse, the top-ranked player in the nation, will lead the Bears. Her performances early in this season have been instrumental to the team’s good start to the season. Her strong baseline play, along with deft movement and strokes at the net, has caused nightmares for her opponents on the court. No. 20 Zsofi Susanyi, a senior, had a fine day with straight-set victories against the Crimson and will look to maintain her good form. No. 59 Denise Starr, a sophomore, also had a big victory against Harvard’s Amy He, and Starr will be a key to obtaining a win against the Bruins.

The Bears are excited about the matchup and are confident that they have what it takes to beat UCLA.

“They are a top school, and they are really good,” said sophomore Stephane Lin. “It’s going to be a good set of matches and some really good competition. Hopefully, we can come out with a win.”

The Bears will most probably play with the lineup that they have been using so far. It is a deep lineup, and the players are confident about their chances.

“Maegan’s at (court No.) 1, and she’s really solid. You can always count on her,” Lin said. “We’ve got a really strong (courts) 2, 3, 6 as well, and they have been pretty solid this season, and they’ll be a good matchup against UCLA.”

Both teams have a wealth of ranked players, but it will be hard to determine key players before the match.

“Sometimes we match up well at every position with them, but you never know who can be the key player,” Augustus said. “They have a lot of ranked players like we do, and so I think the doubles will be key.”

Cal, the defending Pac-12 champion, is not in awe of UCLA, the defending NCAA champions, and the Bears will look to give the team stiff competition.

“They lost to Georgia a round before we did,” Lin said. “They are definitely beatable. We have a very strong team, and our freshmen are really good. We are not intimidated.”

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