The stage was set for a huge win for Cal men’s tennis Saturday afternoon.
A large crowd was watching on Cal Day as the No. 41 Bears took on the No. 12 Cardinal, and a win would put Cal at 4-2 in the conference play and drop Stanford to 2-4. Unfortunately for the Bears, they were narrowly defeated 4-3 to give them their second loss to the Cardinal this season.
Jacob Brumm was not in any of the lineups Saturday because of his wrist injury. Despite being listed as “day to day” and playing doubles against UC Santa Barbara on Monday, he did not play doubles or singles against Stanford.
Instead, his normal partner Yuta Kikuchi teamed up with Ben Draper to play doubles on court three. The duos of Paul Barretto and Can Kaya, along with Jack Molloy and Mert Zincirli rounded out the doubles lineup for the Bears.
The doubles point, which turned out to be critical for the match, was close as the Cardinal took an early 3-1 lead on court one, but the Bears took a 3-1 lead of their own on court three. From there, Cal collapsed as Stanford’s Alexandre Rotsaert and Sangeet Sridhar won five straight games on the third court to clinch the doubles point after a 6-4 Stanford win on court one.
Singles started off well for the Bears with Kikuchi, Molloy, Draper and Bjorn Hoffmann all winning their first sets.
Kikuchi quickly finished his second set to defeat No. 45 Alexandre Rotsaert, and Hoffmann followed up by winning his match to put Cal up 2-1 over Stanford.
The Cardinal was able to even up the match as Zincirli fell on court six. On court three, Barretto was able to win the second set 6-1 to force a third, just as Draper was entering his second tiebreaker of the day to give him a chance to win. Draper was able to narrowly defeat his opponent 7-6(1), 7-6(6) and put the Bears up 3-2.
Meanwhile, Molloy lost his second set to join Barretto in playing a third deciding set. Barretto was playing No. 91 Sameer Kumar and managed to tie up the third set at 5-5 but then lost two in a row to end his chances of clinching the match.
Jack went down 5-2 in the second court and managed to claw his way back to deuce at 5-4 but lost the point to give Stanford the victory.
Despite not having Brumm, Cal did much better this time against Stanford, especially in singles. A continuation of this improvement is necessary for the Bears to have a crack at the Pac-12 tournament, but they have definitely improved their singles since the beginning of the season when it was much more of a liability. They were incredibly close to winning this match, but they just couldn’t win the key points.
Trilok Reddy covers men’s tennis. Contact him at