No. 1 Cal women’s tennis sweeps San Diego State, prepares to face Florida

Mikaela Raphael/Staff

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Aside from the smack of tennis balls hitting the players’ rackets, the teams’ chants are the most prevalent sounds, echoing across Hellman Tennis Complex. In between points and across courts, support and words of encouragement from fellow teammates are always there. Anyone who has played a sport, whether in high school or college, understands that it takes the indescribable bond between a team, in addition to the blood, sweat and tears to become number one.

On Wednesday afternoon, the 9-0 Cal women’s tennis team took on San Diego State in Berkeley. As predicted, the No. 1 Bears swept all matches, beating the unranked Aztecs, 7-0. They clinched the doubles point with No. 6 juniors Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr defeating the pair of Tami Nguyen and Jana Buth, 6-1, and No. 52 senior Klara Fabikova and freshman Olivia Hauger taking the win, 6-3, over Isabelle Hoorn and Taylor Lederman. Spectators sitting in front of court one for the match were in for a treat as Fabikova whipped an inside-out forehand down the line, indicating that the match was essentially over.

“I think in doubles we started a little bit slow, so I wasn’t too happy about that,” Fabikova said. “But I think we finished strong and then my singles went really well, so overall, I think I’m happy with how I did.”

No. 5 Fabikova dominated in singles as well, not allowing opponent No. 121 Nguyen to win a single game, with a 6-0, 6-0 outcome. All of the other Bears singles players also won their matches in two sets. No. 80 Starr beat unranked Buth 6-0, 6-1 while senior Lynn Chi defeated Kennedy Davis 6-2, 6-2.  No. 96 Hauger also had a 6-1, 6-1 win over Paola Diaz de Regules as sophomore Karla Popovic triumphed over Lederman 6-0, 6-1, and sophomore Lyann Hoang defeated Hoorn 6-4, 6-2. Manasse did not compete in singles play as she was under the weather and needed rest for Friday’s big match against No. 7 Florida.

“I think everybody started their match very confidently,” said Cal head coach Amanda Augustus. “I think we, especially in the singles, played a really aggressive game and we kind of went for our shots on pretty much every court so I think I was really happy to see that. I think our doubles need to start a little quicker, so I think we’ll just kind of spend the next couple days kind of working on that so that we’re ready for that on Friday, but overall I was pleased with how everyone did.”

The Bears will need to compete to their fullest potential this Friday when they play the unbeaten Gators. Working in Cal’s favor is that Fabikova has been on fire, which has not gone unnoticed, as she was awarded the title of Pac 12 Player of the Week.

“Well it’s definitely such a great honor and knowing that one of the guys has been named as well, so we swept again, so I think it’s been sort of like a tradition in our team that we get a couple of the girls names out,” Fabikova said. “It’s definitely a great honor and accomplishment to be acknowledged for the work we put in.”

Her humble response reflects the team’s emphasis that was very obvious to anyone watching the match against SDSU. Friday will probably be Cal’s greatest threat to their undefeated record, and either way, one team will come away with a “1” in the loss category.

“I think it’s going to be really high-quality tennis,” Augustus said. “I can’t underscore enough that hopefully it’ll be really a high level of play on every court, singles and doubles, so I think similar to some of our matches at the national team indoors. I think it’ll be a battle.”

Taylor Choe covers women’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected]