The Cal men’s tennis team is off to a strong start for the 2018 season after going 2-0 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this past weekend against Bryant University and Tulsa University. It is pretty expected, however, for the team to perform this way to start the season, considering that it is a team with such great success and history.
The Bears were particularly strong in doubles play this weekend. Over the course of the two matchups, all Cal pairings went undefeated, setting up the singles lineup with the ever-crucial one-point advantage. Doubles play was a point of emphasis for the Bears this off-season, and their improvements showed.
Senior J.T. Nishimura led the squad first against Bryant on Friday, winning in singles and in doubles with senior partner Billy Griffith. The No. 52-ranked pair walked away with a 7-5 victory against Bryant redshirt junior Matt Kuhar and senior Luke Lorenz. Overall, Nishimura and the Bears swept through the Bryant lineup with an impressive 6-1 victory to kickstart the regular season.
Nishimura easily dispatched Lorenz, 6-0, 7-6(5), while Cal sophomore Dominic Barretto defeated Bryant freshman Philip Belmatch, 6-4, 6-2, to clinch the match for the Bears.
Cal then went back into action against the host team, Tulsa, on Sunday, when the Bears took down the Golden Hurricane, 4-2. The Barretto brothers — Dominic and freshman Paul — stood out in singles and doubles play by winning all their matches with ease to set up the Bears for victory.
Older brother Dominic Barretto beat Tulsa senior Mitchell Pritchard, 6-4, 6-1, in the No. 6 match while younger brother Paul Barretto defeated freshman Louis Corker, 6-1, 6-2, in the No. 4 slot. Ultimately, it was another highly touted freshman, Jack Molloy, who eventually sealed the deal for Cal by beating sophomore Jarod Hing in a tight three-setter, 6-1, 6-7(3), 6-4.
Tulsa had a strong singles lineup with two players ranked inside the top-100 in the ITA Collegiate rankings. It was the bottom half of the Bears’ singles lineup, headlined by the Barretto brothers, that performed under pressure for the important victories that Cal needed to win the match.
Head coach Peter Wright kept to the same formula for both matches this weekend, after a fall season where he was more experimental with his players. Freshmen that stepped up into the starting lineup in Oklahoma were Molloy, Paul Barretto and Ben Draper.
Next up for the Bears is a couple weeks of practice at home before beginning their home campaign when they host the ITA Kick-Off Weekend starting Jan. 28. In the meantime, Cal will continue to prepare and get its home base ready for the Berkeley opener. For now, it was certainly an excellent start for a busy and challenging season ahead.
Charlie Griffen covers men’s tennis. Contact him at