The last time the Cal women had a match postponed because of weather, they beat the seventh-ranked team in the country on the road. This time, they’ll play an unranked opponent, but no win comes easy in the conference of champions.
After having last weekend’s match against UC Santa Barbara rained out in Berkeley, No. 20 Cal women’s tennis (5-3) will begin Pac-12 play on the road against Oregon (6-5) on Friday afternoon.
Oregon is coming off two straight losses against Idaho on March 1 and No. 7 Kansas on March 3. The Ducks were swept by the Jayhawks and won only two sets total throughout the entire match. In both of those matches, Oregon forfeited court-six singles, having only a five-player singles lineup.
Meanwhile, the Bears are beginning play in the Pac-12 on the right note. Two tight matches to elite teams in Vanderbilt and UCLA two weekends ago did not necessarily result in wins, but Cal fought hard enough to prove it belonged.
An upset win against the Trojans after those matches that same weekend rounded out a three-day span of strong play for the Bears. For sophomore and rising star Julia Rosenqvist, this was reflected in her singles ranking.
Rosenqvist jumped from No. 45 to No. 24 in this week’s singles poll after an impressive triumph, felling No. 3 Fernanda Contreras of Vanderbilt.
Junior Katerina Stloukalova made her first appearance in the rankings this week at No. 115. Stloukalova was the only Bear to win all three of her singles matches in the last three matches.
Cal also now has three top-50 doubles pairs for the first time all season. Sophomores Anna Bright and Jasie Dunk (11-6) are ranked 23rd, while the new duo consisting of Rosenqvist and sophomore Hana Mraz (3-2) is ranked 26th. Mraz and Stloukalova (7-1) are also ranked at No. 50.
Oregon has one player currently in the national rankings in senior Shweta Sangwan at 87th and no ranked doubles teams.
The Bears have owned the Ducks in recent history, having their number at every turn. Cal has defeated Oregon in every regular-season conference matchup this century.
Friday in Eugene will be an opportunity for the Bears to get fully on track and pick up some steam heading into tougher conference matchups toward the end of March and the beginning of April. Because of the rainy weather that has plagued Berkeley so far this year, Cal was not able to begin this process at home against UCSB.
The nonconference match against the Gauchos has been canceled for the time being, with a chance of being rescheduled later on in the season.
After Oregon, Cal will host Arizona, Arizona State and Hawai’i before difficult conference duels against the Los Angeles teams — USC and UCLA — to end the month of March. Friday’s matchup against the Ducks should be the first of a couple of conference wins before facing these tough opponents.
Dev Navani covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].