Newfound doubles duo, singles improvement highlight Cal women’s tennis team’s fall season

Nicholas Chun/Staff

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That’s a wrap. The Cal women’s tennis team has officially concluded its 2018 fall season, and in retrospect, most of the players and coaching staff would characterize it in two words — on track.

These past few months consisted of various cutthroat ITA tournaments, studded with All-Americans from across the country and other school-hosted competitions, with more localized competition from throughout the West Coast.

Among the three ITA championships in which Bears participated, results were satisfying. At the ITA Northwest Regional Championships in Palo Alto, the dynamic doubles duo of sophomores Anna Bright and Jasie Dunk propelled itself all the way to the finals — the two doing so in their first tournament as partners. Just days ago, they proved their ability to compete at the highest level of college tennis, manufacturing a run to the quarterfinals at the ITA National Fall Championships. If these are the only two chances that this pair has encountered so far, one can only imagine what’s in store come January.

Doubles have historically been a staple of greatness in this Cal program, so it’s no surprise that head coach Amanda Augustus experimented with new pairings until she found the perfect formula.

Sophomore Julia Rosenqvist, who only joined Cal’s team last spring, saw the most singles success at the ITA tournaments. She racked up several ranked wins throughout her three events in her first fall campaign. Highlights included the defeats of Clemson’s No. 14 Marie Leduc, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, and of No. 53 Sabina Machalova of Ole Miss, 7-5, 6-1. Senior Olivia Hauger, who has historically been a singles powerhouse in her four years at Cal, saw fewer victories but was overall still successful.

Senior Maria Smith took no prisoners this fall. She captured the Gold draw singles championship at the Cal Fall Invitational, earned the singles runner-up spot at the St. Mary’s Invitational and reached the round of 16 with junior Katerina Stloukalova at the ITA Northwest Regional Championships.

The team’s track record this autumn reveals a few noteworthy trends. First, a new and perhaps unexpected power in doubles has risen for Cal women’s tennis in Bright and Dunk. The former has shifted to a more doubles-centric role this season as opposed to last year, when Bright competed in singles at both the ITA Northwest Regional Championships and the ITA National Fall Championships. She also achieved a team-best No. 27 national ranking in singles in 2017.

Second, Cal’s high-caliber singles game has plenty of room for growth but definitely does not lack the potential to compete at the highest level. That’s because it is the highest level. Head coach Amanda Augustus knows how to recruit as well as anyone in this game, with Bright and Rosenqvist being the most recent proof.

Augustus continues to believe that this team is “on track” for where it needs to be. All signs point to a riveting spring season, but only time will tell if Cal restores itself as a top-10 program. Until then, one thing is sure — this team is willing to pour every ounce of energy into getting there.

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