As the season comes to a close, the room for error shrinks and wins become increasingly important. The Bears will have the opportunity to pick up two conference road wins this weekend before their season finale one week later.
No. 17 Cal women’s tennis (10-6, 4-3) will face unranked Colorado (10-10, 3-4) on Friday and No. 46 Utah (11-8, 2-5) on Sunday for its eighth and ninth Pac-12 matches of the season.
Both Colorado and Utah were recently swept by top-tier conference foes USC and UCLA, a fate that Cal narrowly escaped in both its losses to the Los Angeles teams.
With a snowstorm projected to go through Colorado this weekend, Friday’s match will most likely be indoors.
Colorado’s best performance of the year came at home against then-No.28 Washington State in a tight 4-3 win. The Bears defeated the Cougars with an identical score last weekend on Cal’s Senior Day.
In that Buffs’ upset, freshman Sara Nayar took down the Cougars’ Michaela Bayerlova, who was ranked No. 38 at the time. In Cal’s recent bout with Washington State, sophomore Julia Rosenqvist (No. 33) fell to Bayerlova on court one in two sets.
The Buffs feature a young team that the Bears have not had much experience playing against.
“Colorado has a lot of new players that we don’t really see much,” said Cal head coach Amanda Augustus. “We’ll really try to focus on our game, make sure we’re serving well, which is important inside.”
Cal will attempt to avoid becoming the second top-30 team Colorado has defeated this year, as the Buffs’ March 10 win against the Cougars was their first top-30 victory since 2007.
Colorado does not currently have a ranked singles player, but it features one ranked doubles pair: the No. 50 duo of Annabelle Andrinopoulos and Monica Malinen.
Even though Colorado’s win and player profiles pale in comparison to those of Cal, the Bears will have to prepare for the doubles point with some extra focus. Before the Buffs were swept by the Trojans and Bruins, they had won four straight doubles points, some against quality Pac-12 competition.
The Bears have recently struggled in doubles play, conceding three of the last four possible points.
As for Utah, it put up a similar fight against then-No.7 Washington to how Cal performed last weekend, with both teams losing close 4-3 matches. Even middling teams in the Pac-12 are by no means pushovers.
Cal will also likely be indoors at Utah as well. The Bears generally do not play indoors, while the Utes are very familiar with that environment.
“Both schools are at altitude, so you have to kind of be a little more aggressive because the ball can fly on you a bit,” Augustus said. “We worked on counteracting that stuff and being aggressive ourselves in both singles and doubles.”
After this weekend’s slate, Cal will wrap up both conference play and regular-season matchups at home against rival No. 3 Stanford.