The No. 19-ranked Cal men’s tennis team looks to improve upon its 2-0 start as they host No. 22 Tulane this weekend at the Hellman Tennis Complex. The Bears will be playing in hopes to qualify for a spot in the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship. In addition, No. 13 Stanford and Oregon will join these teams in Berkeley as part of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend Tournament.
Numbers and statistics have long been used to predict outcomes in sports and are a relied-upon science by many — this weekend is no exception. But those numbers cannot take into account the added pressure in any given match. If the Green Wave hopes to drown the Bears, they will need Cal to cave under the high stakes circumstances.
In terms of the most visible numerical comparison — the team’s rankings — the advantage goes to the Bears.
The stakes are raised for this match, as Cal needs to beat Tulane in order to better position itself for an ITA National Team Indoor Championship qualification. The victor will advance to play the winner of Oregon vs. Stanford in a Monday finals showdown.
With a potential matchup against their rival Stanford lurking in the distance, the Bears must stay focused and prioritize Tulane first and foremost.
In an almost identical scenario last season, Cal beat the Green Wave to advance to the 2017 ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship. The Bears first cruised to a 4-0 victory over Cal Poly and then clinched a bid to the big dance with a 4-2 win over Tulane.
Cal head coach Peter Wright hopes to articulate a clear and steady game plan for his players to follow for success.
Tulane’s doubles opponents will prove to be a tough task for the Bears, who looked strong in their last matches. The Green Wave will bring the No. 16 duo of sophomore Luis Erlenbusch and junior Tyler Schick to Berkeley. They will likely match up against senior J.T. Nishimura and freshman Jacob Brumm of Cal who played in the top slot last time out.
The Green Wave has a greater chance to take a lead after doubles play, as two of their pairings are ranked inside the top 50 nationally. But that’s just one point in the race to four in order to win the match. A majority of the points are obtained from the singles play, where the advantage is likely Cal’s.
The Bears have been a staple in the indoor event draw in recent history, and it would be a disappointing result for the program to fail to qualify. The more big-match experience this young team gains, the better — and as the season progresses, the stakes will only continue to grow.
There is no guarantee, however, that the higher-ranked Bears will beat the Green Wave simply because of a higher number in front of their team name. But Cal will certainly hope the numbers are in its favor to win this match and qualify for February’s indoor championships.