An eventful week, accentuated by an eye-opening upset of the No. 1 doubles pairing in the nation, is only about to get busier for Cal men’s tennis.
Currently, in Tulsa, two Bears still remain in contention at the Saint Francis Health System ITA All-American Championships after fighting all the way to the main draw of the tournament. The tournament started Saturday with prequalifying and qualifying rounds before Thursday’s main draw.
Freshman Yuta Kikuchi fell to UCLA’s Keegan Smith on Thursday morning in the main draw singles. Later, Kikuchi and Jacob Brumm scored a major upset, beating Mississippi State’s No. 1 nationally ranked duo of Nuno Borges and Strahinja Rakic to advance to the round of 16. The Bears will face Virginia Tech’s Carlo Donato and Mitch Harper in the next round Friday, with the tournament set to conclude Monday.
In this weekend’s tournament news, the Bears are heading to Santa Barbara to compete in the UCSB Classic, as they are an impressive two-thirds of the way to a hat trick of three consecutive doubles titles. Junior Dominic Barretto and sophomores Can Kaya and Jackson Suh will travel to the tournament with associate head coach Tyler Browne.
Two weeks ago, Paul Barretto and Can Kaya hoisted the doubles trophy at the Milwaukee Tennis Classic after upsetting a number of teams en route to the title. Just last week, Dominic Barretto and Mert Zincirli followed that up with another championship in the A flight of doubles at the Aggie Invitational in Davis.
Starting Friday and ending Sunday, the UCSB Classic provides an opportunity for the Bears to win their third title in three weeks while also scoping out Pac-12 conference rivals such as UCLA and Washington.
Cal has not had great success at this tournament in the recent past, especially while the current roster has been there. Last year at the UCSB Classic, Bjorn Hoffman and Suh won the consolation C doubles title, but only after the Pacific duo they were supposed to play withdrew. In the other doubles flights, Paul and Dominic Barretto lost in the consolation A doubles title match to two Pacific players, and Can Kaya took third place in the B flight with his partner Gunther Matta.
In singles, the only player to reach a final was Suh, who made the consolation C flight finals before losing to Pacific in a close tiebreaker, while Dominic fell in the third-place match of the B singles. Two years ago, the Bears did even worse, as Hoffman and Dominic both lost in the first round.
With a more experienced roster attending this year’s tournament, the Bears should be set up with better odds. This is the third time Dominic has attended and the second time for both Kaya and Suh. This is a chance for Cal to show how much this young team has grown over the past year.
This is the last weekend the Bears have to prepare before the ITA Northwest Regional Championships tournament in Seattle, which is traditionally attended by all major schools in the Northwest, including Cal’s entire roster.
“Everything honestly is good for the spring season, but regionals is where I like to focus, put my attention in,” Dominic Barretto said.
In Seattle, the Bears will see if they can go toe to toe with Pac-12 foes as they try to earn a spot at the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships.
Trilok Reddy covers men’s tennis. Contact him at