Trio of Bears set to lead Cal women’s tennis against Utah, Colorado

Ana Isabel Diaz/Staff

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With the poise of a future team captain, freshman Anna Bright of Cal women’s tennis is at the forefront of the team’s vision of preparing for a bright future.

But Bright and the Bears’ rebuilding train was put on hold when their scheduled showdown with No. 9 Texas Tech was rained out Tuesday.

Consequently, as it hosts Colorado on Friday and Utah on Saturday, Cal heads into its final matches of a four-game homestand — excluding the canceled Texas Tech — with a few extra days of rest.

With only one player situated in the top 125 in freshman Linda Huang (No. 113), Colorado (8-4, 1-1) is almost certain to have issues dealing with Bright, fellow freshman Julia Rosenqvist and the rest of Cal’s front six.

Meanwhile, the Utes (8-5, 1-1) don’t have any nationally ranked singles players and face the Bears on the last end of a back-to-back-to-back that begins Thursday.

Both matchups already favor Cal on paper, but even more so when glancing at the team’s recent performances.

After a pair of upsets this weekend, one of which came against a top-10 singles player, Rosenqvist secured Pac-12 Player of the Week honors for the first time in her career. In the span of two weeks, the freshman upset UCLA senior Terri Fleming and sophomore Ena Shibahara, both ranked players with a solid track record.

In recent matches, head coach Amanda Augustus has been rewarding Rosenqvist with the responsibility of playing under the court one lights.

“Julia just came in January, but we knew about her level when we recruited her,” Augustus said. “We look for players that are ready to play right away when we’re hurting, and that’s usually how it goes.”

Bright had a solid weekend as well, dismantling USC sophomore Becca Weissmann before  falling to a tough opponent in UCLA redshirt sophomore Jada Hart, struggling in the final two sets after piecing together a stronger opener.

Currently holding down the No. 35 singles ranking in the nation, Bright’s constant source of positive energy never dwindled despite the loss. Rosenqvist is set to take on Huang during singles play on Friday, leaving Bright with almost certainly an unranked opponent.

“That’s what makes our conference so good,” Augustus said of last weekend. “We have tough matches like this, and even if they don’t go your way, there’s a lot good that comes out of it and a lot of things to learn and we just keep building.”

No longer the team’s future, but rather the team’s present, junior Olivia Hauger has been arguably Cal’s most consistent player in the early going, leading the pack with the No. 32 singles ranking.

Given Utah’s current rotation, Hauger is lined up to face either junior Taylor Calton or senior Jena Cheng on Saturday, but neither Ute should be able to counter Hauger’s recent play.

The trio of Rosenqvist, Bright and Hauger will lead the Bears as they aim to secure the team’s second and third regular-season Pac-12 wins. Given that the team will have a two-week break after Saturday, expect Cal to showcase its full firepower on both days.

Josh Yuen is an assistant sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @joshcal2020