Cal women’s tennis ends fall with positive outlook for future

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Similar to the end of a celebrated novel series, the final edition of the Cal women’s tennis team’s fall season was an all-out thriller where everything finally came together.

Two contingents of the team battled it out in Arizona this weekend, with one participating in the ITA National Fall Championships in Surprise and the other at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational in Tempe.

Those at Fall Nationals — senior Olivia Hauger and sophomores Julia Rosenqvist, Anna Bright and Jasie Dunk — garnered success among some of the fiercest competition in Division I women’s tennis.

Cal’s greatest triumph this weekend came with Bright and Dunk, who more than proved their superiority as a doubles team. Hot off a trip to the doubles finals together at the ITA Northwest Regional Championships, their first tournament as partners, the two players reached the quarterfinals this weekend before falling to second-seeded Makenna Jones and Cameron Morra of North Carolina.

Their victories included a 6-3, 6-1 defeat of Megan Davies and Rachel Rohrabacher of South Carolina, followed by a win over Maria Kononova and Tamuna Kutubidze of North Texas, 7-5, 6-3. Head coach Amanda Augustus concluded that the Bears have shown their ability to compete with any team in the country — a staple of doubles for the Cal women’s tennis program.

“To only make a quarterfinal as sophomores bodes really well, and I think they’re getting better each match they play,” Augustus said.

In singles, Rosenquist showed everyone her exceptional mental toughness in the final event of her fall season. She saw more play time this tournament than any other Bear, grinding out four grueling matches, three of which were in the consolation draws. The first was a loss to Baylor’s Livia Kraus, followed by a three-match run to the consolation quarterfinals.

Hauger lost both matches but maintains her top-40 ranking in singles.

“I think singleswise, both Olivia and Julia had very good falls. They both improved their ranking from the beginning of the fall, and they both had a significant number of high-ranking wins,” Augustus said.

Rosenquist’s first consolation match was a three-set display of true grit and perseverance, a 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 win over Madeline Bosnjak of Georgia Gwinnett. She then bested Ole Miss’ 53rd-ranked Sabina Machalova in the consolation round of 16 — her highest-ranking adversary — in straight sets. The Swede’s 6’1” stature fashions her serve into a cannon, and as the highest-ranking Bear in singles, she undoubtedly possesses a great deal of potential for the spring.

The rest of the team made waves at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational, winning five out of seven total matches. Cal refused to give up so much as a single doubles match, and junior Katerina Stloukalova earned two singles wins. Augustus complimented Stloukalova’s high quality of play and conviction, specifically citing her third-set 11-9 tiebreak win against Kansas State’s Anna Turco.

“I think at ASU, Kate played really really well there, and that’s why we’re happy she’s a part of our team,” Augustus said.

Now, all eyes turn to the spring season. The team will start off with a particularly tough schedule, which is an intentional move. Until then, some specific goals mentioned by Augustus include developing more aggressive serves, improving player confidence in singles and ramping up fitness training to an even higher level.

“They have to put in the work on their own, and I think this is a group that’s going to do that,” Augustus said.

Once again, the divide and conquer technique prevailed this weekend for Cal women’s tennis. This successful group is now gearing up for its return in January — a homecoming not to be missed.

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