The No. 3 Cal women’s tennis team concluded its long road trip, spanning three weeks, this week with victories over No. 38 Arizona and No. 24 ASU. These victories improved Cal’s Pac-12 record to 5-1 and regular season record to 14-3.
The Bears played the Wildcats on Friday under the harsh sun and high temperatures. The match started off badly for the Bears, as they lost the early doubles point. Arizona’s Briar Preston and Shayne Austin upset Cal’s fifth-ranked pair of sophomores Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr, 8-4, and Arizona’s Laura Oldham and Devin Chypyha beat Cal’s freshmen pair of Karla Popovic and Lyann Hoang. The Bears’ 11th-ranked pair of senior Zsofi Susanyi and junior Klara Fabikova, however, was able to beat Lauren Marker and Inge Hendrikx.
The disappointment of losing the doubles point charged the Bears to perform well in singles, and that is exactly what they did. No. 61 Popovic was on course to beat Chypyha, as Popovic led, 6-0, 3-1, but Chypha retired, and Cal was awarded the win. No. 33 Susanyi posted a quick-fire win over Oldham and only dropped a single game over the whole match.
Susanyi’s win boosted the confidence of all of the Cal players, and the Arizona players fell like a stack of dominoes. No. 40 junior Lynn Chi defeated Austin, 6-2, 6-2, and in the process posted her first win of the season. Chi looked much better on the court after recently returning from an injury.
No. 2 Manasse then clinched the win with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Marker. Manasse’s forehand strokes were of the highest order, and Marker seemed overwhelmed. No. 43 Starr and senior Cecilia Estlander finished their respective matches with straight-set wins, and the match ended 6-1 in Cal’s favor.
Cal then headed to play ASU on Saturday, which also ended favorably for the Bears, who again posted a score line of 6-1 against the Sun Devils.
The day started well for the Bears as they captured the early doubles point. The doubles matches saw some clean hitting from Cal, and the team was able to dispose of its opponents quickly. The pair of Susanyi and Fabikova defeated the 77th-ranked pair of Joanna Smith and Kassidy Jump, 8-4, and the pair of Popovic and Chi easily beat Ebony Panoho and Alexandra Osborne, 8-4, to give Cal the early lead.
“The doubles today was much better than last time, and we really got off to a good start,” said head coach Amanda Augustus. “ASU is really well known for its doubles, and I think getting the doubles point was very good for the players’ confidence in the singles.”
Cal continued its good start in the singles, as No. 22 Fabikova doubled the lead with a convincing 6-1, 6-2 win over Stephanie Vlad. Her flat smashes served as the X factor in the matchup, and Vlad could do little to overcome them. Fabikova’s victory opened the floodgates, as Cal notched quick victories through Susanyi and Manasse.
Susanyi again had a splendid performance as she disposed of Smith, 6-3, 6-2. Manasse also posted a dominant win over No. 45 Desirae Krawczyk and clinched the overall win for the Bears. Starr, Popovic and Estlander had long matches that went into third-set tiebreakers. Starr and Popovic prevailed, but Estlander went down in what was a close and intense match against Panoho.
“The team’s confidence is really good,” Augustus said. “We really took it one match at a time, one week at a time. To have two decisive victories this weekend was very good for the team.”
Devang Prasad covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].