Not one. Not two. Not three.
Everyone knows the infamous championship proclamations that LeBron James made when he first formed the Big Three on the Miami Heat. It appears that there is a new Big Three brewing at UC Berkeley in the form of junior Thomas Wright and seniors Dominic “Nic” Barretto and Mert Zincirli.
The trio captured not one, but two championships in a dominant showcase at the Gaucho Classic last weekend. The Bears brought the heat in both singles and doubles competitions, paving the way for higher aspirations heading into the spring.
“Three guys went down there, and three guys came back with a title, so it was a very positive weekend,” said Peter Wright, director of Cal men’s tennis.
Cal was led by Barretto, who was still licking his wounds after dropping the back draw finals match at the 2018 Gaucho Classic. Nursing some injuries, Barretto opted not to play doubles and focused his attention on singles, where he flourished.
“My body felt great the whole weekend, and it feels great now, so I am proud that my body feels completely fine now and that I will be ready for regionals. You’re only as good as your next match, so I’m looking forward to regionals,” Barretto said.
Battling through tough competitors from all across the West Coast, Barretto came out on top of the A flight singles bracket. With his victory, he joins an elite group of individuals, becoming the fourth Bear in the last seven years to secure first place in top-flight singles in Santa Barbara.
“In the A flight, there’s been some pretty big names in college tennis who have won there over the years, so that’s an outstanding performance by Nic this weekend, and he really showed his senior leadership. It was his fourth match in 48 hours, so he was obviously tired, but he managed to outthink his opponent and outplay him in the last few sets,” Wright said.
Barretto defeated Stanford’s Neel Rajesh in a tough finals match that ended with a 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 result.
“Beating them in the duel-match season means a hell of a lot more to us than beating any of them in normal tournament play,” Barretto said.
Per Wright, the approach to the final would have been the same regardless of who stood across the net. He did admit that the end result felt good, however.
“It was nice for Nic to win the tournament, and he didn’t really care who he beat, but the fact that it was someone from Stanford does make it a little bit sweeter,” Wright said.
Not one, remember? The Bears also took home the title of flight B doubles champions when the tandem of Wright and Zincirli downed Fresno State to the tune of 8-5. This marked the second time Cal has gone the distance in the B doubles bracket in the past six years.
The duo also competed in the singles competition. While Wright was eliminated in the C singles quarterfinals and Zincirli in the A semifinals, the two excelled in doubles. En route to their finals victory, the pair defeated teams from UCLA and San Diego State.
“We had one doubles team there, and they were undefeated. It’s always nice to win the title,” director Wright said.
Cal will surely savor the sweetness of its two championships and can look to continue its hot streak when the team travels to Stanford to compete in the 2019 ITA Regional Championships, beginning Oct. 25.
Kabir Rao covers men’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].