Pac-12 seeding on the line as Cal takes on Washington, Oregon

Tennis player prepares to strike the ball.
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No. 35 Cal men’s tennis will be wrapping up its season with a road trip to Washington and Oregon this weekend with hopes to head into the Pac-12 Tournament on a hot streak. The Bears are scheduled to play the final two conference matches Friday and Saturday after losing three of their last four Pac-12 affairs.

Cal is currently in the middle of the pack in the conference with a 3-3 record, the same as No. 12 Stanford and No. 24 Arizona. No. 27 Arizona State is only one game ahead of the Bears at 4-2, but it plays both No. 14 UCLA and No. 10 USC this weekend — the top two teams in the conference.

Fortunately for Cal, Washington and Oregon boast a mere 1-5 record in conference, tied for the worst. Oregon is also on a six-game losing streak, but despite this, the Ducks are currently ranked No. 45 nationally. The Bears have moved up the rankings themselves, rising six spots this week to No. 35 even though the only match they played last week was a loss to Stanford.

One threat to Cal is Oregon’s star singles player Thomas Laurent who is ranked No. 12 nationally. Although the Bears singles have been improving, the doubles point is a critical part for Cal to win. This is a problem for the Bears, who are still suffering from Jacob Brumm’s wrist injury. Brumm has played on and off for a number of weeks, but he and his partner Yuta Kikuchi have not won a doubles match in more than a month. The duo fell nine spots to No. 32 after the duo didn’t play together against Stanford with Brumm out.

Washington should not be much of a challenge for the Bears despite having the No. 73 pair of Jack Davis and Piers Foley. Their overall record is only 6-15, and that includes a loss to UC Santa Barbara, a team that Cal beat 4-1 earlier this month. Unless the Huskies can pull off an upset as the Bears did in football this year, Cal should have a clear path to a victory in Seattle.

Cal could potentially reclaim the third spot in the Pac-12 rankings by the end of the week. Assuming Arizona State lose at least one of its matches, if the Bears win both of theirs, they will be tied for third place. The only way they could lose that spot is if Stanford also beats Washington and Oregon; in which case, Stanford would take third because it has the tiebreaker from its win over Cal last weekend.

Seeding for the Pac-12 Tournament is important if the Bears hope to make it to the second round. The eighth and ninth seeds play each other, with the winner facing the first seed, and on the other side of the bracket, the seventh plays the second. If UCLA and USC are able to clinch the top two seeds, then Cal needs to avoid the bottom third of the standings to make it to the semifinals.

Trilok Reddy covers men’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].