Popovic, Hauger end tournament run in final, freshmen impress in singles at Regional Championships

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Californians know a thing or two about In-N-Out. For a variety of reasons, it doesn’t get much better than being rewarded with Animal-Style fries or a signature cheeseburger after a long day on the grind. Or better yet, a double-double.

After an extended weekend of competitive matches at the USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Championships held across the bay at Stanford, the Cal women’s tennis team order is in: A plentiful amount of singles and a double-double or two after a solid showing in both singles and doubles.

Two days after a trio of Bears fell in the singles main draw to players from host Stanford, the duo of senior Karla Popovic and junior Olivia Hauger were still battling in the doubles main draw for yet another finals appearance. Although the top-seeded pair succumbed to Oregon’s pairing of junior Shweta Sangwan and senior Alyssa Tobita in the doubles final on Monday afternoon, the tightly-contested match represented a robust checkpoint late in the fall season.

“Our freshmen all had good ranked wins and everyone overall really did what they had to do and then some,” Cal head coach Amanda Augustus said.

With a bundle of West Coast teams battling it out beginning Thursday morning, it was evident off the bat that the Pac-12 held an edge over the rest. With early-season play off and running for the Bears, it remained to be seen how Cal’s hard-hitters would fare against the likes of Stanford and Oregon for the first time. One thing’s for sure: the conference rivals came out ready.

“This is a tough region and this is where some of the best players in the country play,” Augustus said. “It’s good for us to see where we’re at especially with some of the younger players compared to everyone in our region.”

Despite bowing out in the quarterfinals round on Saturday, juniors Hauger and Maria Smith, along with freshman Anna Bright, put up good fights against a trio of Stanford’s top players, including junior Melissa Lord, the No. 7 singles preseason player. If Lord is to Stanford what Popovic is to Cal, then sophomore Emma Higuchi is to Lord what Hauger is to Popovic, the “Robin” counterpart to the team’s ‘Batman’.

Which is why perhaps the most impressive match of the weekend came from freshman Vivian Glozman who, despite playing in the consolation round Saturday, upset Higuchi in tie-breaking fashion as the rest of her teammates battled it out in the main draw. Glozman’s upset came a day after her teammate Bright forced Higuchi into the consolation draw.

“We didn’t win the event in singles but we definitely put ourselves in good position for nationals,” Augustus said.

Ultimately, all eyes fell on the main court for Monday’s finale between Pac-12 foes, as Hauger and Popovic battled Oregon’s top duo, along with the high-80s temperatures that surrounded Stanford’s Taube Family Tennis Center. After rallying in the second set to bring the final to a tiebreaker, the Ducks ultimately prevailed 4-6, 6-4, 1-0(6).

Despite not coming away with any tournament wins, Augustus’ doubles pairings continue to impress in the early-going, while singles play has taken plenty of steps forward this fall. With one final preseason crack at improving their game next weekend, the Bears have already done plenty to show that they are a team to fear come spring time.

Josh Yuen covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].