It’s reasonable to think two Arizona teams would have some kind of advantage playing tennis outdoors on one of the first hot, sunny weekends in Berkeley all semester.
Unfortunately for them, the Bears were quite happy to see some clear weather themselves.
No. 14 Cal women’s tennis blanked Arizona (8-6, 0-3) on Friday, 7-0, and routed Arizona State (5-8, 0-4) on Saturday, 5-2. Cal (8-3, 3-0) remains unbeaten in conference play and extended its winning streak to four this weekend.
A key point of emphasis for Cal head coach Amanda Augustus was the doubles play; the Bears have tinkered with their lineup since their last matchup with the Sun Devils in late January, in which they lost the doubles point.
“We have a lot of respect for Arizona State in doubles,” Augustus said. “I thought we did such a good job of being more aggressive at the net than we did when we played them last time.”
The No. 26 pairing of sophomores Julia Rosenqvist and Hana Mraz clinched the doubles point for Cal against Arizona State’s best doubles duo, No. 6 Lauryn John-Baptiste and Ilze Hattingh, only allowing them two games in the set
The two Bears also won their set against the Wildcats the day earlier. Rosenqvist and Mraz now hold a 6-2 doubles record this spring.
Cal had a successful singles weekend as well, winning all but one of the team’s first sets on both days.
While the Bears only conceded two sets in Friday’s entire match against the Wildcats, the victory against the Sun Devils was not as smooth. Both No. 115 junior Katerina Stloukalova and No. 74 sophomore Anna Bright lost their second sets and entered the third set tied on courts two and three, respectively.
Bright was able to pull away from Arizona State’s Tereza Kolarova for her seventh singles triumph this spring, but Stloukalova lost consecutive sets to John-Baptiste, giving the Devils their first singles win of the afternoon.
“We know that Arizona State is always a team that’s going to fight. You get in the second set, and there’s a few close games, you got to just work your way through it, and I think we let a few points get away from us,” Augustus said. “Kate’s (Katerina’s) match could have gone either way, even though the score doesn’t really show it.”
Stloukalova has played singles on court two in each of the last three matches for the Bears in senior Olivia Hauger’s absence.
The only other point the Sun Devils were able to steal from the Bears was on court four singles, where Arizona State’s Sammi Hampton defeated senior Maria Smith in three sets in the last game of the weekend.
Smith battled back from a 6-1 loss in the first set to win the second, but she could not complete the turnaround, losing the third set 7-5.
“It was good for her younger teammates to see her fighting until the very end, even though I know she probably wasn’t happy with how she played today,” Augustus said of Smith’s Saturday match.
With their first three conference matchups resulting in relatively easy wins without many complications, the Bears have executed as expected for a top-15 team with a talented lineup.
The more important challenge for Cal will come two weekends from now when the Bears travel to Los Angeles for conference play against two elite teams, No. 17 USC and No. 6 UCLA, in rematches from earlier this season.
The Bears will face Hawaii in a nonconference dual match at home Saturday.
Dev Navani covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].