The Oracle ITA Fall National Championships started off with disaster — one of the two doubles teams had to withdraw because of illness — but ended with remarkable success for an up-and-coming doubles team.
Initially, the only two players attending the national championships were freshman Yuta Kikuchi, who was playing singles, and his doubles partner, sophomore Jacob Brumm. The two received at-large bids to the tournament based on their results at previous contests such as the ITA All-American Championships and the ITA Northwest Regional Championships.
Fellow Bear sophomores Paul Barretto and Can Kaya were listed as first alternates in case anyone withdrew. By sheer luck, another doubles pair withdrew, giving them an invite to the tournament Oct. 31 — just seven days before the tournament. Unfortunately, because of an unnamed illness, the Bears announced just one day before the tournament was scheduled to start that the duo would not travel to Surprise, Arizona.
Barretto and Kaya were best known in doubles for winning the Milwaukee Tennis Classic in their first contest together. They joined forces once again in the ITA Northwest Regional Championships, where they battled their way to the semifinals before being narrowly beaten by Washington’s Jack Davis and Piers Foley.
Similarly, the first time Kikuchi and Brumm played together was at the ITA All-American Championships, where they joined as alternates when another team withdrew. They went on to score huge upset wins against a number of ranked teams on the way: They beat No. 30 UC Santa Barbara, No. 16 Virginia Tech and No. 1 Mississippi State before their run was cut short by Ohio State’s duo in the quarterfinals.
The young duo showed up to Surprise, Arizona with vengeance in mind as the two squared up for a rematch with Ohio State. The Bears beat the team in a close match 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4).
Unfortunately, revenge goes both ways. No. 12 Mitch Harper, part of the Virginia Tech team that Kikuchi and Brumm beat in the All-American tournament, knocked Kikuchi off of the singles bracket the same day, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.
The next day, Cal continued its doubles dominance as the team put North Carolina State’s No. 15 pair of Igor Saveljic and Ivan Saveljic on a plane back home, 7-6 (2), 6-3. The Bears’ next targets on the list were Florida’s No. 24 duo of Brian Berdusco and Johannes Ingildsen, who they beat 7-5, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.
In a bittersweet moment, the Bears’ remarkable run was cut just short of reaching the finals as they fell 6-3, 6-4 to Texas Tech’s No. 42 Parker Wynn and Bjorn Thomson. Kikuchi and Brumm are listed by the official scorecard as having placed third in the tournament.
This is the final tournament the Bears will attend this year, and they currently plan to return to the courts Jan. 15 against nonconference foe Pacific in Stockton, California.
Trilok Reddy covers men’s tennis. Contact him at