Magic versus Bird, Red Sox versus Yankees, Muhammad Ali versus Joe Frazier, Federer versus Nadal, Michigan versus Ohio State. The sports world is made up of historic rivalries, pushing both sides to their limits, each knowing that there will be no greater satisfaction than besting “the enemy.”
This weekend will be filled with drama and excitement for the No. 1 Cal women’s tennis team as they take on Pac-12 rivals Oregon on Friday and their overall greatest rival No. 18 Stanford on Sunday.
“I think for Oregon, it’s kind of a new team. They have a lot of freshmen and sophomores that we haven’t seen much of,” said Cal head coach Amanda Augustus. “And then Stanford, it’s always a good match, it’s always close, so we just have to be ready for it to be long and we have to be ready to fight hard, and we have to be ready for the match to come down to a court or two.”
This Friday, Oregon (11-5, 3-3 Pac-12) will take on Cal at the Hellman Tennis Complex as the first part of both team’s doubleheaders. Last weekend, Oregon was barely defeated by UCLA, 4-3 in Los Angeles. In doubles, the Ducks will be led by No. 35 duo of Shweta Sangwan and Kennan Johnson, who lost to the Bruin’s No. 7 pair of Catherine Harrison and Kyle McPhillips, 6-4. In singles, No. 18 Harrison, UCLA, got the better of No. 70 Johnson, Oregon, again. The Ducks have two ranked players in singles with Johnson and No. 124 Alyssa Tobita, who fell to the Bruin’s McPhillips in three sets, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1. Freshman Sangwan has been a rising star for Oregon and she leads her teammates with her singles record.
The Bears (15-0, 4-0) will have one day of rest after facing off with Oregon until they will have to face their biggest rival the Cardinal (9-4, 4-1) on Sunday afternoon. Stanford will be coming off a Saturday home match against Oregon before heading to Berkeley.
The Cardinal should provide more of a challenge for the Bears with their two ranked doubles teams of No. 4 pair of Taylor Davidson and Caroline Doyle and No. 47 duo of Caroline Lampl and Krista Hardebeck. In addition, Stanford also has four ranked singles players, three of whom are in the top 60. It has a top 25 player in No. 23 Davidson, who leads the stacked lineup of No. 57 Doyle, No. 59 Carol Zhao and No. 118 Hardebeck. The Cardinal swept Colorado and Utah last weekend, 7-0, after a close 4-3 loss to now-No. 9 Pepperdine. Despite the difference in ranking, Cal should not underestimate Stanford, which has won 10 out of the last 14 matches between the two teams.
“It’s nice when you don’t know which court it’s going to come down to because that gives people an opportunity to feel that excitement of the end of the match and how to close a match out,” Augustus said. “I always enjoy the close, competitive matches, because I think the players learn a lot from them.”
The Bears’ star studded lineup includes No. 6 doubles pair of Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr. In singles, tied for No. 7 Manasse leads her teammates and is followed by this week’s Pac-12 Player of the Week, No. 11 Klara Fabikova. All of Cal’s ranked singles players are in the top 100 with No. 64 Lynn Chi, No. 68 Olivia Hauger and No. 93 Starr.
Cal’s Pac-12 rivalry with Oregon does not seem like much of a rivalry this year, but its match with Stanford should be reminiscent of historic rivalry matches and test its ability to rise above its Bay Area foe.
“I think the big, important thing for this weekend is to take it match by match and just play whoever’s on the other side at that moment, and not really look forward too much, you have to be in the moment to be able to play,” Fabikova said. “And for me, Lin and I, it’s going to be our last two home matches, so I just want to enjoy playing here and have fun, and leave with no regrets.”
Taylor Choe covers women’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected]