Bad weather has followed this Cal team around all season, but these Bears have found a way to succeed despite the conditions.
Playing indoors in both Colorado and Utah because of snow and rain, No. 17 Cal women’s tennis (12-6, 6-3) found its second and third consecutive wins in the Pac-12 this weekend.
“I think the team was ready and handled the conditions quite well,” said Cal head coach Amanda Augustus. “Obviously, both of those are much more comfortable playing indoors.”
Both matches were slightly closer than the final scores indicated, but each was still a strong performance for the Bears. Cal defeated unranked Colorado (10-12, 3-6) on Friday, 5-2, and took down No. 46 Utah (12-10, 2-7) two days later, 6-1.
Cal won both doubles points on the weekend to take early leads in each match, but the team did not come without some tension.
Against the Buffaloes, the top Bears pair that day — the No. 27 duo of Anna Bright and Jasie Dunk — lost 6-2 to No. 50 Monica Malinen and Annabelle Andrinopoulos. Friday’s point came down to a tiebreaker on court three that the pairing of Olivia Hauger and Katerina Stloukalova captured.
Cal faced similar troubles in doubles Sunday against Utah, even though the Bears were eventually able to pull it out. The Utes forced Cal to get seven games on both courts two and three before losing the doubles point.
The No. 16 duo of Hana Mraz and Julia Rosenqvist was back in action against the Utes, winning 7-5 on court two.
“I think we’re volleying a lot better (in doubles), specifically our poaching and transition volleys,” Augustus said. “These indoor teams (usually have) big serves, big first shots, and I think we did a good job of turning that into offense for us.”
Cal’s singles play was a much different story. The lower-half courts (four, five and six) did not concede a single set throughout the weekend, with sophomore No. 119 Bright and senior Maria Smith winning each of their singles matches in two sets as well as junior Alexis Nelson and sophomore Mraz splitting the duties on court six, winning their matches in two sets.
No. 42 senior Hauger brought her singles winning streak to four this weekend. In each of those four matches combined, Hauger has conceded only one set, coming in Utah in the first set against Madison Tattini.
No. 33 Rosenqvist had a tough outing, playing court one singles for the Bears this weekend and losing both her matches against Colorado’s Sara Nayar and Utah’s Brianna Chisholm.
Cal has come to expect much from the sophomore after some fantastic play against elite competition earlier in the year, but it has since tapered off in the last month or so.
“You’re not going to play your best every week,” Augustus said. “She [Rosenqvist] competed her hardest, and I think her volume of work over the season speaks for itself.”
Every player on the roster will need to be locked in for this week in practice, preparing for the final game of the season against rival No. 3 Stanford on Saturday.
“We know we’re going to have to play hard, and it’s always just a really great, high level of tennis,” Augustus said. “I respect their program, and I think their team competes in class, and that’s one of the important things for our team too.”
Cal was swept by Stanford in 2018 and last defeated the Cardinal in the 2015-16 season in which the Bears went 23-2.
Cal may not be favorites to win Saturday’s match, even at home, but making the match a real competition would build some confidence for the postseason in a conference in which the Bears are ranked fifth.
Dev Navani covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].