With a young core, Cal men’s tennis is set to reach its peak of the preseason in the regionals, which start Oct. 19. This weekend will be the last practice run as seniors Billy Griffith and J.T. Nishimura continue in consolation after a short run in ITA All-American Championship main draw and the Bears send seven other players to Santa Barbara.
On Thursday, No. 49-ranked Griffith lost in the first round of the singles main draw in Tulsa against No. 13-ranked Tulane senior Constantin Schmitz, 6-2, 6-3. Nishimura had a good run in the qualifying singles, coming back in the first two matches, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3; 4-6, 6-1, 6-1. He fell short in the final qualifying round against Texas A&M sophomore Valentin Vacherot, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5. Nishimura played in the doubles main draw Thursday, though, with Griffith on his side. The No. 39-ranked duo bowed out early, however, while No. 3-ranked UNC duo sophomore William Blumberg and senior Robert Kelly will advance to the round of 16, 6-2, 6-4.
On Friday, sophomores Bjorn Hoffmann, Dominic Barretto and Gunther Matta and freshmen Paul Barretto, Can Kaya, Jackson Suh and Thomas Wright will represent the Bears in the UCSB Classic. Hoffmann and P. Barretto will play in A flight singles, going up against Fresno St. junior Jeremy Moser and Pacific sophomore Akram El Sallaly, respectively. Two Bears clashed in the final last weekend in Davis, where Hoffmann got the edge in a tight match, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 as he repeated as the champion for the second year in a row.
“We are looking for big things from (Hoffmann),” said Cal associate head coach Tyler Browne.
This weekend, P. Barretto will look forward to turn the tables around for a title, as the schedule allows a possible rematch for the Bears in the final.
“I hope that (P. Barretto) will continue to maintain that discipline going forward in Santa Barbara,” Browne said.
In B flight singles, D. Barretto will start the weekend against Fresno St. sophomore Henrique Osorio, as he looks forward to repeating his title run from last weekend. In C flight, Matta, Kaya and Suh will suit up against St. Mary’s junior Daniel Krutik, Pacific freshman Simon Solbas and Fresno St. sophomore Cagatay Soke, respectively. Lastly, Wright will compete in D flight against St. Mary’s sophomore Jackson Hawk.
In doubles, the Barretto brothers will look to continue their good form against the freshman duo of Keegan Smith and Bryce Pereira from UCLA in A flight. In B flight, Matta and Kaya will partner for the first time against LMU freshmen Lucas Moreno and Diego Nava. Hoffmann and Suh clash against Cal Poly’s freshman duo of Daly Meinert and Andrew Whitehouse in C flight.
In this last tournament, Cal coaches will have their last chance to see the development of this young core, particularly for the freshmen, before heading to Stockton for ITA Northwest Regional Championship.
“Most of the freshmen, right now, are on their way to peaking at regionals,” Browne said.
The young core of the Bears will look forward to prove their coach right in Santa Barbara this weekend.
Can Sariöz covers men’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].