Cal women’s tennis notches 2nd major upset of season at Pepperdine

Tennis player strikes ball with racket.
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Some cultures believe that rain is a good omen; others think the opposite. For Cal women’s tennis, however, there is not much debate at all.

Two weeks later than the originally scheduled date because of rainy weather in the SoCal area, the Bears (4-1) took down No. 7 Pepperdine (3-2) in a stunning 4-3 upset in Malibu.

Cal had also swept San Diego State (5-3) the day earlier, building its current three-game winning streak.

The Bears spent more than two weeks without playing a match because of the weather, but it wasn’t too much of a break.

“We used the time to work a bit on our doubles,” said Cal head coach Amanda Augustus. “It was just unfortunate, and we’ve had to make a lot of adjustments because the weather has been quite unpredictable.”

The sunny Saturday marked the Bears’ first victory over the Waves since their 23-2 season in 2016. It was only Pepperdine’s fourth home loss dating back to the 2016 season.

No. 41-ranked sophomore Julia Rosenqvist clinched the match at 4-2 against Ashley Lahey in three sets.

Earlier in the day, Rosenqvist teamed up with fellow sophomore Hana Mraz to shock Pepperdine’s Lahey and Evgeniya Levashova, the No. 1 doubles pair in the country. The 6-3 result helped the Bears take the doubles point for only the second time this year.

The struggles in doubles led Augustus to make some lineup changes. Mraz and Rosenqvist beat the No. 1 duo in the country in only their second match together as a duo in doubles play this season, pairing on both Friday and Saturday.

“They’re both very aggressive players, and both tactically smart players,” Augustus said. “We weren’t sure because it was the first time in actual match play, but they served quite well, and we were really pleased with what they did this weekend.”

No. 28-ranked senior Olivia Hauger continued her ascent, claiming victory over her second top-15 opponent and winning her fourth match of the year. She only needed two sets to upset No. 13-ranked Levashova. Hauger remains undefeated in singles and should see her ranking climb a couple spots come Tuesday’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association, or ITA, poll.

“I’m not really surprised because she puts the works in every day and loves to go out and compete for the team,” Augustus said of Hauger’s recent success. “She works hard, is open to coaching and is committed to the goals of the team and the program.”

This weekend’s wins came after Cal received some votes in the most recent ITA top-25 team poll, from Wednesday. The Bears are looking to become the fourth Pac-12 squad listed in the national rankings, joining Stanford, UCLA and Washington.

The Bears can make even more noise as an up-and-coming squad this weekend in their home debut at Hellman Tennis Complex against No. 5 Vanderbilt (4-2), No. 8 UCLA (5-1) and USC (4-1). The match against the Bruins on Saturday in Berkeley will be the Bears’ third straight against a top-10 opponent.

“With having three matches this weekend, we’re not going to do a whole lot,” Augustus said. “We want to make sure everyone is recovered and feeling good. It’ll more just be touching the ball and refining a couple things.”

Four top-25 singles players will be visiting Berkeley to face Cal: Vanderbilt’s Fernanda Contreras (No. 3) and Christina Rosca (No. 12), UCLA’s Elysia Bolton (No. 18) and USC’s Salma Ewing (No. 24).

Wet tennis courts are never fun, but the last time rain impacted the Bears, they came away with a win against the No. 7 team in the country after the delay. Maybe, if they’re lucky, more light drizzles will fall during this week before three tough matches on the weekend.

Dev Navani covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].