After a three week road trip, the No. 3 Cal women’s tennis team returns to Hellman Tennis Complex to play No. 51 Washington and No. 62 Oregon this week. The Bears (14-3, 5-1 Pac-12) played their last six matches away and were victorious in five of them, with their only loss coming from USC.
Cal put up a convincing performance in its last two matches against Arizona and ASU, with both matches finishing 6-1 in Cal’s favor.
“The team feels really good after three weekends on the road,” said senior Zsofi Susanyi. “Road matches are always a challenge for everybody and we did well.”
The Bears will look to get an early lead by winning the doubles point, something they were unable to do against the Wildcats. Cal, however, was able to win all six singles matches. Susanyi was a very strong performer in this matchup, as she only dropped one game in her singles match. She also won both her matches against ASU and was awarded the Pac-12 Player of the Week for her performance this past week.
“This week we are focusing on our doubles,” said Cal head coach Amanda Augustus. “Mainly our returns and placement of volleys. The weather has been a bit windy so we have worked on change of pace shots like underspin or more topspin.”
Susanyi’s award was the sixth time a Cal player was deemed the Pac-12 Player of the Week this season. This demonstrates that the team has a lot of depth and has players who thrive in high-pressure situations.
“Having Pac-12 Players of the Week is a big honor,” Augustus said. “It is something that excites the players and we are fortunate that the conference has recognized the ability of the players. They’re very happy.”
The matches against Arizona also saw junior Lynn Chi post her first victory of the season as she slowly returns to the squad after an injury.
“It felt pretty good to be out there,” Chi said. “There are still a few kinks that need to be worked on but overall it felt great to be out there and get the win.”
Sophomore Maegan Manasse, who has been a vital part of the team, will again lead the Bears on court No.1 in singles. Her doubles partner, sophomore Denise Starr, will look to continue her strong performances.
Freshman Karla Popovic has also become a very important member of the roster in her first year on the team. She has the second best overall singles record (35-7) in the team after Manasse (36-7). Her powerful serves and forehand winners have tormented her opponents throughout the season.
The Huskies come into this matchup on a three-match losing streak, falling to USC, UCLA and Utah. The Ducks also lost their last two matches, against USC and UCLA.
On the other hand, Cal’s recent road trip showcased the team’s depth and its ability to play away from home, factors that will prove to be very important for the rest of the season.
“NCAAs are always on the road,” Augustus said. “The recent trip was a good preparation for playing on the road and the routine that comes with it for this group of players. They handled it really well. Three weeks on the road back to back is not easy.”
Devang Prasad covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].