Klara Fabikova wins consolation singles title at USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships

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For anyone who’s interested in sports, Flushing Meadows is a special place. It is home to Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets, and right across the street stands the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the site of the US Open. This past weekend, the Cal players participating at the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships were looking to win it all, but like the Mets, they fell short of achieving that goal.

Senior Klara Fabikova made her trip a memorable one as she captured the consolation singles title by beating Brienne Minor of Michigan, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1. Fabikova served magnificently throughout the course of the tournament and added another weapon to her well-rounded style. Against Minor, Fabikova had to change her in-game strategy a bit after the second set. She became more aggressive at the net and the risk ultimately paid off in the end.

“It was a goal for me to qualify and do very well at this tournament,” Fabikova said. “I had prepared for this tournament and am very excited. It feels really good.”

The duo of juniors Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr on the other hand, failed in its bid to win a second national title this fall as Manasse and Starr lost to the Wildcats pair of Mami Adachi and Aldila Sutjiadi, 6-4, 6-2, in the semi-finals. The Kentucky team poached a lot and the variation that its down-the-line strokes provided, proved to be the kryptonite for the Cal duo. This was Manasse and Starr’s second loss this fall, and the Kentucky duo is the only team that they have lost to. Fabikova and freshman Olivia Hauger also could not make it to the finals as they were eliminated in the round of 16.

“The team from Kentucky is a very good team,” said Cal head coach Amanda Augustus. “They played a very smart game and volleyed a bit better than us which gave them the edge. Once we get back home, we’ll definitely be working on our volleys.”

Manasse had a disappointing singles run as well, as Vanderbilt’s Stephanie Campbell knocked her out in the round of 16 in a tense encounter that lasted three sets. Campbell displayed some formidable baseline play as she neutralized Manasse’s offensive style and controlled the rallies with her groundstrokes. The first two sets were very lopsided with Manasse dominating the first one and then getting blown out in the second one. Campbell did not let her nerves get to her and closed out the match in the third set. The matchup ended 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 in favor of Campbell.

The Bears also participated at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational in Tempe, Arizona, over the weekend, and were represented by five players — senior Lynn Chi, junior Stephane Lin, and sophomores Lyann Hoang, Karla Popovic and Audrey Mayer.

The highlight of the tournament was Chi’s third-place finish in singles. This was her first piece of competitive action in the fall, and she gave an exceptional performance in her 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 win over ASU’s Ebony Panoho.

Cal’s other results in Tempe were disappointing as Lin, Mayer, Popovic and Hoang had early exits in singles. While Popovic and Hoang were eliminated in the round of 16, Mayer and Lin’s tournament came to a halt in the round of 32. Mayer’s struggles continued as she was again handed a double bagel — this time at the hands of Desirae Krawczyk. Each of them posted a win in the consolation rounds. Lin too posted a win in the consolation rounds as she defeated Michigan’s Kara Hall.

“Things have been progressing pretty nicely for the team throughout the fall,” Augustus said. “We were very excited on having (Chi) back and she had a good tournament. (Hoang) has improved tremendously too. Spring will be competitive and exciting and the players are really looking forward to prove themselves.”

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