Cal duo poised for deep run in NCAA Doubles Championships

Karen Chow/Senior Staff

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Though the 2019 season may be over for most of the Cal men’s tennis team, No. 28 sophomore Jacob Brumm and freshman Yuta Kikuchi will try to avenge their fallen teammates at the NCAA Doubles Championships this week at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida.

“For Jacob and Yuta to get a chance to play in the individuals this year, I think it’s a big bonus to them, and it’s an experience that they’re going to take with them, grow with, and bring to our team next year,” said men’s tennis director Peter Wright.

The two played most of the year in the first doubles spot for the Bears, which helped them secure one of the 19 at-large selections for the 32-team tournament.

Brumm’s spring season was plagued by a recurring wrist injury, which forced Kikuchi to play with different partners as a result. Before Brumm’s health took a turn, however, the duo was unstoppable.

In 2018, Kikuchi hadn’t played doubles until he was paired with Brumm for the ITA All-American tournament. After defeating three top-30 duos as a youthful unranked pairing, both athletes knew their partnership was the start of something special.

The two had further success at the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships, where they reached the semifinals before falling to Parker Wynn and Bjorn Thomson from Texas Tech. If this duo is able to harness the dominance it showed in those previous tournaments, Kikuchi and Brumm will be more than qualified for a deep run in this year’s doubles championships.

Although Kikuchi and Brumm didn’t receive a top-eight seeding, their chemistry and experience against the nation’s top competition has prepared them to surmount those who lie above.

The Cal duo beat the then-No. 1 Mississippi State duo of Nuno Borges and Strahinja Rakic — who received the third seed for this week’s tournament — back in October at the ITA All-American Championships.

The only Pac-12 doubles team to earn automatic qualification was No. 2 Maxime Cressy and Keegan Smith from UCLA. Brumm and Kikuchi were swept twice by the menacing duo in the regular season.

No other doubles team or singles player from Cal made this individual tournament. After a 4-0 loss at the hands of No. 2 Texas in the team tournament, it’s up to Brumm and Kikuchi to bring home some silverware this weekend. Doubles play begins Tuesday and concludes Saturday.

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