No. 14 Cal women’s tennis collects back-to-back match wins at home

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Since joining the Bears last fall, freshman Anna Bright has been making noise — both on and off the court.

After a tough weekend facing players from UNLV and then-No. 12 Texas at the ITA Weekend Kickoff event, the No. 27-ranked singles player in the nation was back at it against in-state opponents San Diego State and Santa Clara.

Leading the No. 14 Bears to a pair of dual-match wins, Bright set the tone early Thursday against SDSU with her energizing attitude, whether it was playing on the Hellman Tennis Complex’s court one or cheering on her teammates from the side.

After taking care of business in her first singles match against SDSU senior Jana Buth, 6-1, 6-1, Bright joined her teammates vocally supporting freshman Jasie Dunk and junior Maria Smith in their ongoing matches.

Looking like a true veteran who’s been around the block a few times, Bright was the most vibrant and lively supporter as Dunk rallied past fellow freshman Nnena Nadozie, 3-6, 6-2, 6-0, to clinch the match for Cal. It was Dunk’s first career clinching-win, giving the Bears a 5-2 victory that was capped off by Smith’s 6-2, 6-7, 1-0(4) performance over Aztec senior Paola Diaz.

While the win was a highlight for both Bright and Dunk, they were far from the only freshman finding their groove. Freshman Vivian Glozman also got in on the action, pairing with Smith to clinch the doubles point with an impressive dismantling of Buth and Diaz, SDSU’s most experienced pair.

The rise of Cal’s freshman was especially vital with sophomore Alexis Nelson dropping her singles match to junior Jenny Moinard, 6-4, 6-3, and junior Olivia Hauger sitting out the first of the two matches. Senior Karla Popovic continues to remain away from the team for undisclosed reasons, and there has been no indication of her return to the court soon.

The team’s energy from Thursday’s win carried over to Saturday’s match-up with Santa Clara, where Smith shined by clinching both the doubles point and overall match victory in her singles match. Smith’s 6-0, 6-3 win against freshman Katya Tabachnik capped off another 5-2 win for the Bears, improving their early spring record to 3-1.

Hauger — the No. 40 singles player — returned and impressed in a 6-2, 6-3 triumph over senior Zeina El Tawil. But perhaps the most impressive feat for the whole two-match set was Cal’s sweep of the Broncos in doubles. Bright and freshman Julia Rosenqvist continued to work in sync for yet another doubles win together, capturing a 6-3 victory against Tabachnik and sophomore Maddie Pothoff.

Like Hauger and Popovic, Bright and Rosenqvist (and really any of the freshman pairings that the Bears put together) have the potential to develop into one of the team’s most feared combinations of the past decade. The fact that Bright finishes out her matches as the loudest and most spirited teammate speaks volumes to the character and optimism that epitomize the program that head coach Amanda Augustus is building.

In the meantime, the Bears will rest up for their next match Feb. 18 against UCSB, after which they will embark on a pair of away-dual matches against Pac-12 foes USC and UCLA. While Bright’s play may cool down after that, her animated personality certainly won’t.

Josh Yuen is an assistant sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].