No. 8 Cal women’s tennis narrowly defeats No. 7 Stanford

Kore Chan/File

Related Posts

Winning is a great emotion that leaves a sweet taste in the winner’s mouth. Winning against your biggest rival on its home court leaves an even sweeter taste. The No. 8 Cal women’s tennis team left Palo Alto with this sweet taste as it defeated its archrival, No. 7 Stanford, in a dual match. The Bears overcame the Cardinal with a 4-3 scoreline.

This is the second time in two seasons that the Bears have defeated the Cardinal on its home court. The last time, the Bears defeated Stanford to clinch the Pac-12 crown.

The Bears came into this matchup with a record of 6-2, and Stanford came with a record of 7-1. After the victory, the Bears now stand at 7-2, and so does Stanford.

Cal was able to take the early doubles point with some textbook tennis from the No. 12 pairing of junior Klara Fabikova and senior Zsofi Susanyi. They defeated Stanford’s No. 10 pairing of Caroline Doyle and Ellen Tsay, 8-3, and clinched the doubles point. The No. 4 team of sophomores Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr, however, fell to Stanford’s No. 3 pair of Taylor Davidson and Carol Zhao, 4-8. Additionally, Cal’s pairing of freshman Karla Popovic and junior Lynn Chi defeated the Stanford pair of Krista Hardebeck and Lindsay Kostas, 8-3.

Winning the doubles point proved to be crucial for Cal, as it turned out to be the difference maker in the matchup because both the teams were tied, 3-3, in singles.

“The doubles victory was really important,” said head coach Amanda Augustus. “ We played aggressively on all courts in the doubles and went for the shots and continued to play impressive tennis at the net, which was critical. It also helped everyone to come out and play smart tennis in the singles.”

Cal’s singles lineup saw some shuffling in this match, with No. 61 Starr exchanging her usual court, No. 4, with No. 24 Susanyi’s usual court, No. 3. Susanyi put away the disappointment of her last two losses and came up strong against Hardebeck. She had a large percentage of shots on the court and an effective counter punching, which enabled her to obtain a straight set victory, 6-4, 6-4.

“She worked hard in practice this week, and it showed,” Augustus said. “Her experience really helped her today. It was her last match here, and she wanted to play really hard and see how she did.”

No. 42 Fabikova gave Cal an early 3-1 lead on court No. 2 by upsetting the Cardinal’s No. 13 Davidson, 6-1, 6-4, with Fabikova’s strong groundstrokes making the difference in this match. But on court No. 5, No. 41 Popovic could not continue her scintillating run of victories as she fell to No. 118 Tsay in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1. Starr, too, came up short in her effort against No. 22 Doyle and lost by a score of 5-7, 7-6 (3), 2-6.

The Big Slam was as tense an affair as it promised to be. The last three matches all went into third sets. On court No. 1, No. 2 Manasse lost in a tiebreaker to No. 4 Zhao in spite of putting in a valiant effort, 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (6). Senior Cecilia Estlander clinched the overall victory for Cal, however, by defeating Lindsay Kostas 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, showing great mental strength and willpower. Estlander was down by a set but overcame that deficit to focus on the match and win it. It was her last match at Stanford, and her experience and motivation ensured that she and the whole team would emerge as the victors.

“It was a great victory for the team today,” Augustus said. “It’s hard to win away from home, but everyone played good tennis today. Everyone really contributed to the victory.”

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