No. 1 Cal women’s tennis defeats No. 7 Florida, 4-3, in a nail-biting encounter

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Tennis is often an emotional rollercoaster. As a spectator, it is easy to see when momentum shifts from one side to another. Before you know it, a player that had lost the first set and was down in the second set comes back and takes the win. The beauty of this sport is that anything can happen; there are upsets and comebacks, always packaged with a rainbow of feelings.

On Friday, the No. 1 Cal women’s tennis team took on No. 7 Florida at Hellman Tennis Complex. Both teams were undefeated going into the match, with the Bears coming out still undefeated, winning 4-3. The adrenaline-pumping, nail-biting match was history in the making as Cal beat Florida for the first time ever.

“I think they just fought really, really hard,” said Cal head coach Amanda Augustus. “We talked the other day about competing hard, and that’s something I want us to do each match, because you never know what court is going to have a good match-up or not such a good match-up. And I thought we had some good courts and some not-so-good courts, but the team stuck together and fought through, and I’m just really, really proud of how hard they worked to get that victory as a team.”

The Gators got off to a solid start, winning the doubles point, understandably so, as they had two pairs ranked in the top 20. On court one, No. 7 Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan defeated Cal’s No. 6 Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr, 6-4, while on court two, No. 19 Josie Kuhlman and Belinda Woolcock defeated No. 52 Klara Fabikova and Olivia Hauger.

Cal’s singles did not start off too well either. Unranked sophomore Karla Popovic beat No. 67 Anna Danilina, 6-1, 6-1, but No. 10 junior Manasse lost to No. 12 sophomore Austin and No. 5 senior Fabikova lost to No. 6 Woolcock both in two sets. Fabikova seemed to struggle with keeping the ball in, and emotions were flying with both of Cal’s top players. At this point, the Gators were leading 3-1 and the future of the match seemed bleak for the Bears.

No. 80 junior Starr, however, was able to defeat No. 72 Kuhlman, 6-3, 6-4. The match came down to No. 96 freshman Hauger and senior Lynn Chi, who both lost their first set. Chi was up in the second, while Hauger was down 2-5. The crowd migrated over to courts four and five, as spectators witnessed the magical shift of energy from No. 88 Brianna Morgan to the young Hauger. Hauger’s intense passion, determination and mental willpower were evident with every powerful fist pump, as her mistakes came to a halt. Hauger went on to win 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 while Lynn Chi upset No. 30 Keegan 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-3.

“I was just really focused on winning the next point and I was trying not to think about the score,” Hauger said. “So I was just telling myself to fight as hard as I can for every point, and it worked out.”

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