For junior Maegan Manasse, the No. 6 Cal women’s tennis trip to Madison, Wisconsin, will be an opportunity to not only finally experience snow but help end the program’s search for a second final appearance at the ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship.
“I haven’t seen snow before,” Manasse said. “Hopefully it snows. It’ll be fun, cheese, yay!”
Snow and cheese aside, Manasse will hope to cut through her opposition at the Indoor Championships, a tournament that the team remembers well as they almost reached the championship round last year. Cal lost to Georgia, 4-2, in the semifinals.
The Bears will hope to secure the top prize this weekend. But the task won’t be an easy feat because they will be going up against some top notch opposition.
“Most of the top teams in the country will be at the Indoor Championships in Madison,” said Cal head coach Amanda Augustus. “I think that will be a test for us to kind of see where we stack up.”
The event will truly be a test for her squad, as it didn’t have the luxury of preparing as well as some of its adversaries. The Bears were unable to complete their first spring tournament, the Cal Winter Invitational, because shower forecasts prompted officials to cancel the event on the first day.
The Bears finally managed to get some valuable playing time on the court nearly two weeks ago at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, where they dominated the competition to win and be crowned champion. Cal routed both Cal State Northridge and Washington, 4-0, to earn a berth at this week’s tourney. The No. 43 pair of senior Klara Fabikova and freshman Olivia Hauger excelled in doubles play, and they will be expected to carry their fine form into this weekend.
The same cannot be said about the No. 3 duo of Manasse and junior Denise Starr. They struggled in their match against Washington’s Tami Grende and Miki Kobayashi. Manasse and Starr couldn’t regain their composure after a slow start and went on to lose, 6-3.
But Manasse apparently didn’t dwell on the upset and instead shifted her attention to singles competition. The junior displayed her leadership qualities and propelled the Bears to victory at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend by defeating the Huskies’ Nour Abbes, 6-2, 6-2. The Bears will hope she can do the same at the Indoor Championships, with or without a few minor lapses in her mental and physical game.
Despite being a standout performer, Manasse will not be alone in her pursuit to come back to Cal as a champion. Senior Lynn Chi, junior Stephane Lin and sophomore Karla Popovic will be readily available to help pitch in a solid effort in their respective matches. Seeing them or any of their other teammates lead the Bears to victory wouldn’t be shocking, considering the pedigree of Cal’s squad.
The goal will be the same as last year: win. But with this tournament set to be held indoors, the Bears won’t have to worry about waiting for the courts to dry or having the event end prematurely, like they did last month. They will also be able to focus on their game, while not being bothered about the fatigue that they’d accumulate if forced to finish a tournament of this stature in a single day.
For the first time in their spring campaign, Cal will have complete control of its fate at the Indoor Championships, and it will seek to make an elusive second final appearance.
Failure to even secure a spot in the semis, however, would likely be considered a failure. But for now, the Bears can rest with a little bit of confidence, knowing that they’ve been able to deal with adversity, such as adapting to peculiar match day conditions and still coming out top this spring.