The nice thing about playing in a tough conference is that there is always another opportunity to play top-level competition and earn a quality win.
No. 19 Cal women’s tennis (9-5, 3-2) will have that chance this weekend at home against No. 15 Washington (15-1, 5-0) and No. 36 Washington State (17-5, 2-3).
Last weekend’s slate also included going on the road to face two ranked Pac-12 teams (No. 8 UCLA and No. 11 USC), and Cal ended up receiving its first two conference losses of the season.
In this homestand, the Bears can make up some of the ground they lost by accumulating what would be impressive conference wins against teams capable of putting up a fight.
Washington has not lost since being swept Feb. 8 at the National Indoors by then-No. 2 Vanderbilt. The Huskies are riding a five-game conference winning streak since beginning Pac-12 play in early March.
Their most impressive win came playing the then-No. 7 Kansas Jayhawks at home in a tight 4-3 match.
As for Washington State, its pedigree this season is slightly weaker but strong nonetheless. Its conference play includes home victories against Oregon and Arizona, two teams Cal has also defeated in the Pac-12.
Last weekend’s losses had a significant impact on both Cal’s singles and doubles rankings. Sophomore Julia Rosenqvist dropped from No. 30 to No. 40, while senior Olivia Hauger dropped from No. 21 to No. 42.
Cal head coach Amanda Augustus didn’t think that Cal came out as the aggressor in its last two matches, and aggression in doubles is a key point that she has emphasized throughout the season for the Bears.
“We’re going to hit a lot of balls this week and get confident and ready to go,” Augustus said.
Each Washington team currently has one ranked singles player: No. 95 Stacey Fung of the Huskies and No. 57 Michaela Bayerlova of the Cougars.
Cal will have more than just home-court advantage against Washington on Friday — Washington is a team used to playing indoors and will need to adapt in Berkeley’s outdoor Hellman Tennis Complex.
“Washington is a little more of an indoor team, so we’ll definitely work on the stuff that they do,” Augustus said. “They tend to flatten out the ball a little bit more.”
Regaining composure and confidence in doubles will also be a point of importance for Cal heading into this weekend’s set of matches. Washington has the No. 38 duo in Stacey Fung and Nika Zupancic, while Washington State’s top-pair is No. 75 Hikaru Sato and Tiffany Mylonas.
After playing these northwest teams, Cal will receive a little bit of a reprieve next weekend when they are scheduled for two more conference matches against Utah and Colorado. The Bears will have a nice opportunity to win four straight in the Pac-12 here before a clash with No. 5 Stanford on April 20.
Dev Navani covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].