Cal women’s tennis star Maegan Manasse takes singles, doubles titles at Nike Invitational

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The only way for the Cal women’s tennis team to improve upon the all-Cal singles final in last year’s Nike Invitational was to have four Bears in the semifinals, and that’s exactly what they did for Homecoming this past Sunday. And while there was no all-Cal doubles final like last year, two Bears doubles teams still won the titles in the top two doubles draws of the tournament.

Junior Maegan Manasse, No. 4 in the nation, continued her dominance from last year’s event. Just as in the 2014 edition, Manasse claimed both of the top singles and doubles titles. She competed in an intense 6-3, 6-1 win over teammate Karla Popovic in the semi-finals of the singles draw, concluding with a hug at center court. The finals proved to be quicker, a 6-1, 6-1 win over 16th ranked Klara Fabikova, who was coming off of a 6-3, 6-3 win over freshman Olivia Hauger.

The freshman had an extremely impressive debut tournament, defeating Arizona State’s hard hitting Kassidy Jump in the second round by outsmarting and frustrating her in a comeback 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 match. In the third round, she defeated 33rd ranked teammate Denise Starr 6-3, 6-3 in a decisive upset.

In doubles, the duo of Manasse and Starr walked through the top draw, winning 8-4 in both of their first two matches before dominating in an 8-1 win over ASU’s Alex Osborne and Ebony Panoho for the title.

The other Cal doubles duo in the top draw, Fabikova and Popovic, struggled in its first time playing together, losing a sloppy 8-4 set to a team from UCSB in its first match.

“Those two have not played together, so it’s going to be an adjustment,” said Cal head coach Amanda Augustus. “I think they’re much more prepared for the All-American tournament having played a couple matches together. I’m not worried.”

In the secondary singles draw, Lyann Hoang rallied from losing the first set of the semifinals 1-6, to a fairly dominant 6-4, 6-3 score in the second and third sets to defeat Saint Mary’s Vanessa Nommensen. Playing defensively for most of the match worked well for Hoang, but she had to aggressively serve and volley on key points in order to clinch the second set.

“One of our team goals this week was not to lose in straight sets, and coming in with that mentality was really good (for my game),” Hoang said.

Hoang looked poised to pull off another comeback win, losing the first set of the finals against UCSB’s Jaimee Gilbertson 6-1, before forcing a third set with a 7-5 win in the second. Hoang, however, went down 2-5 in the third set and the deficit proved to be too much, as she dropped the last set 6-4.

The doubles duo of Hoang and Hauger made the finals of the second draw easily, but played a very close match against San Jose State’s Marine Dans and Sybille Gauvain in the finals, winning 8-7(7). The tiebreaker was made particularly interesting by a series of officiating disputes resulting in two play stoppages. The disputes made for a contentious crowd and boisterous cheers when Hoang and Hauger prevailed.

“We’re heading off to a big tournament, so this was perfect preparation … (I’m) happy to see our team get two of the three doubles titles here, that’s a really good accomplishment,” Augustus said.

Andrew Wild covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].