Cal women’s tennis continues early success at all levels

Nicholas Chun/Staff

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How many All-Americans does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Perhaps a better question is how many All-Americans can the Cal women’s tennis team fit into its roster? Right now, that answer is three, or one-third of the team. That equals one more than last year competing at the ITA Women’s All-American Championships in Pacific Palisades, California.

For sophomore Julia Rosenqvist, this was likely her first of many ITA All-American Championships, as she currently holds the highest ranking on the Cal women’s tennis team, at No. 28 nationally. Rosenqvist arrived at Cal from the sleepy town of Onsala, Sweden in the spring, adding a page to head coach Amanda Augustus’ already spectacular recruiting record. So far, Rosenqvist has met and exceeded expectations — her ability to compete with Division I tennis’s top female talent is striking. At the ITAs this past week, she accumulated a total of four ranked singles wins, including a monumental comeback victory over Clemson’s 14th-ranked Marie-Alexandre Leduc, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the consolation draw. It’s important to remember that each win at the ITAs is also a win over another tremendously talented All-American.

“(Rosenqvist) played two very different matches with two totally different opponents,” Augustus said. “She had a good week picking up four ranked wins, with only two losses to two of the top players in the country.”

As for the Bears’ other two All-Americans, senior Olivia Hauger and sophomore Anna Bright, tournament results varied heavily. Hauger failed to qualify in singles, a disappointing result considering her senior status and impressive run to the main draw in 2017. On the other hand, Bright raked up three wins in the qualifying rounds, but lost to both of her opponents in the main draw and in consolation play. One of these, a grueling 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 clash with Michigan’s 18th-ranked Kate Fahey, even merited praise from coach Augustus.

“Anna had a very, very long, hard-fought match,” Augustus said. “They both really pushed each other. Anna was able to see where her conditioning is at. She really executed her game plan well.”

While the Bears’ top talent battled hard in Southern California, the remainder of the team journeyed to Moraga for the St. Mary’s Invitational on Friday, seeking to build on last week’s success.

Cal senior Maria Smith, the Gold Flight singles champion at the Cal Fall Invitational, grabbed a spot in the final of the A singles draw before bowing out to Stanford’s Niluka Madurawe. Smith has clearly propelled her game to a higher level for her final season in blue and gold, something the coaching staff is ecstatic to see.

The Bears’ very own junior Alexis Nelson also emerged victorious from her first match in the A draws before losing in the round of 16, and sophomore Jasie Dunk had a strong run in the B singles draws before falling to No. 4-seeded Rita Colyer of USF in the quarterfinals.

“I was really impressed by the entire group this weekend,” assistant coach Zack Warren said. “We have a team that is eager and excited to represent Cal every week.”

How many All-Americans does it take to screw in a lightbulb? For the Bears, the current answer is clear — three, because so far in match play this season, it seems a lightbulb is shining brightly above all nine heads from Augustus’ well-led and intelligent group.

Mitchell Horn covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].