Cal women’s tennis maintains potential at fall nationals

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What do the Golden State Warriors and the Cal women’s tennis team have in common? Both strike fear into their opponents’ eyes with their trademark blue and gold, and this week, both boast a gifted “Big Four.”

Wednesday marked the beginning of play at the prestigious Oracle ITA National Fall Championships in Surprise, Arizona. Four Bears are currently competing among the premier college players in the nation — senior Olivia Hauger and sophomore Julia Rosenqvist are representing the Bears in singles, while the sophomore duo of Anna Bright and Jasie Dunk is taking on the doubles draws for Cal.

Bright and Dunk came out with a fiery zeal in the first round, squashing Megan Davies and Rachel Rohrabacher of South Carolina 6-3, 6-1. Bright noted that the two have a natural chemistry, both utilizing the other’s energy well to boost the team’s confidence and performance.

Head coach Amanda Augustus also voiced her satisfaction with their performance, especially because Cal will face this team again in the spring season.

“They’re a good combination because Jasie is really good at the net, and Anna is great on the baseline,” Augustus said.

This team is proving itself a force to be reckoned with this season. At the ITA Northwest Regional Championships just a few weeks ago, Bright and Dunk forged a run all the way to the doubles finals. This included a defeat of the 52nd-ranked doubles tandem in the country, hailing from Oregon. They will face Maria Kononova and Tamuna Kutubidze of North Texas next, four wins away from the fall nationals doubles title.

Rosenqvist and Hauger, ranked 28th and 34th in the country respectively, both fell in their first-round matches Wednesday. Both, however, still maintain the chance to earn the consolation championship crown Sunday.

Each lost in straight sets, but this isn’t Cal’s first rodeo. Last year, Bright made the finals of the singles consolation draw as a freshman. Augustus knows how to coach her athletes far beyond the first and second days, especially with the profound level of talent that Rosenqvist and Hauger possess.

“Our goal is to have all four of them competing here the rest of the week until Sunday, and we’re very capable of that,” Augustus said.

The team hopes that Bright and Dunk continue to fall into a rhythm as quickly as they did Wednesday and display that same significant measure of confidence.

In terms of singles, the two All-Americans simply need to start each match on a better foot to prevent having to battle from behind. Everyone knows that any adversary is fair game for these two — note Rosenqvist’s upset of Clemson’s 14th-ranked Marie Leduc in October, and when Hauger defeated Stanford’s 13th-ranked Melissa Lord at the same event.

This is the concluding tournament of the fall season for this quartet. Accordingly, the team’s collective attitude in these final days is aggressive, passionate and all-out.

“We’re ready to do work and put some matches up on the board here for Cal,” Bright said.

Starting Friday, the remainder of the team will take on the ASU Thunderbird Invitational in Tempe, Arizona, just a stone’s throw away from nationals. All eyes will be on names such as senior Maria Smith and junior Katerina Stloukalova, who together reached the round of 16 at the ITA Regionals.

For now, these Bears pose a formidable threat to anyone in their way at fall nationals. The next few days contain substantial potential for this program as it looks to close out the season on a high note.

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