After a last-minute change of partners, first-time doubles teammates Can Kaya and Paul Barretto fought all the way to the end of the doubles bracket at the Milwaukee Tennis Classic this weekend. Meanwhile, back in California, the Bears had a strong start at the Battle in the Bay Classic but were defeated on the second day.
Kaya and Paul Barretto knocked five pairings off the bracket on their three-day path to the trophy, highlighted by a 6-2 win over the top-seeded Jake DeVine and Logan Smith from USC and an 8-5 victory over nationally ranked No. 12 Henrik Korsgaard and Alex Ribeiro of Virginia Tech leading up to the championship round. Kaya was originally going to play with Mert Zincirli, but because of an injury to the latter, Kaya was placed with Paul Barretto for the Milwaukee tournament.
Paul Barretto was unfazed by the change-up.
“It was great, a great successful first partnership,” said Paul Barretto. “Nothing too different, (we) just went out to the courts looking to crack some serious shots.”
“It was a stroke of genius,” said Cal men’s tennis director Peter Wright. “I think their chemistry really paid off — they complement each other quite well on the court in doubles.”
They defeated Tennessee’s duo 8-3 Sunday to become the first Cal men to win a title in the 43-year history of the Milwaukee Tennis Classic.
“We just had to take it round by round,” said Paul Barretto. “We just went out there looking to do our best on the tennis court.”
“It feels amazing — we had some really tough matches,” Kaya said.
While the pairing proved to be successful in Milwaukee, it is still undecided whether they will remain together in future tournaments or not and when the team matches start in the spring. Nevertheless, the result is a strong sign of the players’ development as the individual tournaments continue.
“Looking forward to the spring, both of them are playing at a level that is going to help us be successful,” Wright said.
Paul Barretto’s brother, Dominic Barretto, paired up with Brett Meyers from Marquette. The unfamiliar team started with a strong win over fifth-seeded Minnesota before being bested by BYU.
In singles, the Bears faced much tougher competition. Of the three attendees, Dominic Barretto and Kaya fell in the first round, and Paul Barretto lost in the second.
“Overall, it was a good weekend for us. We struggled a little bit in singles, but this is the only clay court tournament on the collegiate landscape, so I brought these guys here so they could take the challenge of playing on clay,” Wright said.
At the Battle in the Bay Classic, three of the four Cal singles players received byes in the first round. The only singles match played the first round was an unfortunate loss by Ben Draper to the University of the Pacific. In the next round, the Bears came out swinging, and Bjorn Hoffmann, Jack Molloy and Yuta Kikuchi beat players from USF, Texas and Cal Poly respectively.
The next day, those same players were all knocked out of the tournament, ending Cal’s hopes at a singles victory.
The doubles pairings did not fare much better, as the duos of Hoffmann and Kikuchi and Malloy and Draper also took hard losses to UCSB and USC in the first day of the tournament.
The weekend was a mix of upset victories and disappointing losses for the Bears. Wright, however, was pleased with the team’s performance overall.
“They really played some incredible tennis over the weekend,” Wright said.
The Bears are now looking toward next weekend, when they will attend the Aggie Invitational in Davis and the ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa.
Trilok Reddy covers men’s tennis. Contact him at 7