Women’s tennis makes a splash at regionals

Madeleine Fruman/Staff

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Cal women’s tennis’s solid run at the ITA Northwest Regional Championships ended this Monday. The tournament saw a whopping eight Bears compete for regional titles at Stanford’s Taube Family Tennis Center, all hoping to qualify for fall nationals.

In singles, both Cal juniors Julia Rosenqvist and Anna Bright featured and were seeded No. 2 and No. 6, respectively. The freshmen continued their outstanding matchplay, with Haley Giavara seeded No. 4, Valentina Ivanov seeded No. 5 and Erin Richardson seeded No. 9. All posted impressive performances. Also present were seniors Katerina Stloukalova and Alexis Nelson.

As for doubles, the duo of Rosenqvist and Ivanov claimed the top seed, while the pair of Bright and Giavara seeded No. 5, and Richardson and junior Jasie Dunk seeded No. 5.

In the opening rounds, Cal won a stunning 14 of 16 matches. Rosenqvist ranked No. 24 nationally, surpassed the opposition, winning both of her matches that day to reach the third round of singles. Teammates Bright, Giavara, Ivanov, Stloukalova and Nelson stunned the first day of competition and emerged victorious as well. Richardson and Dunk were the only Bears who fell in the round of 64.

The high-ranking doubles teams of Rosenqvist and Ivanov and Bright and Giavara received automatic passes. In addition, Dunk and Richardson handed a loss to Fresno State, and with the seniors beating their opponents, the entire team advanced to Saturday’s matches.

Showing that they had seamlessly adjusted to collegiate competition, the remaining freshman eased past the round of 16 at the Taube Family Tennis Center, not dropping a set. In a shocking upset, Cal’s top-ranked Rosenqvist suffered an early exit at the hands of Washington State’s Melisa Ates. Fellow junior Bright was more fortunate, defeating Washington’s ninth-seeded Natsuho Arakawa in three sets.

Rosenqvist’s quest for a title was sustained as she and partner Ivanov captured a win in the doubles round of 32. Bright and Giavara, the other pair, added to the slew of Cal victories to conclude Saturday’s gameplay.

The quarterfinals witnessed odd twists of fate and the renewal of a rivalry. Giavara and Ivanov squared off against each other, with the latter edging out her teammate and moving on to the semifinals.

Meanwhile, Bright faced ninth-seeded Mariia Kozyreva of Saint Mary’s and lost 6-1, 6-3. She saw more success in the main draw doubles, toppling the Gaels’ fifth-seeded Kozyreva and Danielle McIntyre alongside partner Giavara. Rosenqvist suffered her second upset, ending her play in the tournament.

It was a classic battle familiar to many in semis, with three Bears facing the Cardinal. Ivanov battled against the top-seeded and national No. 6 Michaela Gordon, ultimately losing against the veteran. The team finished its regionals run as Bright and Giavara lost to the second-seeded pair of Emily Arbuthnott and Angelica Blake. It marks the second consecutive year that Cal has been defeated by Stanford, with Bright and Dunk losing the previous year in the finals.

Despite falling short of capturing titles, the tournament saw an all-around effort and improvement from players.

“Overall, we had a very good tournament,” said head coach Amanda Augustus. “The wins we picked up throughout the tournament continued our progress this fall, and I feel like we had good performances from the entire team.”

Thinking ahead to the winter season, Augustus expects players to seize the opportunity right now to elevate their rankings and position themselves for further success.

“Hopefully, when the end of the fall comes, there are lots of Bears ranked in singles and doubles nationally, and I think we’re on track for that,” Augustus said.

After all, the first half of the season serves as a time for trial.

“We’ve tried some different combinations in all the fall events so far,” Augustus said. “When we look to the spring, we’ll assess what we saw and put together our three best doubles teams.”

Women’s tennis will round out its fall season vying for a wildcard spot in the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships held in Newport Beach. Other members will play in the ASU Thunderbird Invitational in Tempe, Arizona.

Margaret Mckay covers field hockey. Contact her at [email protected].