Cal women’s tennis team finished its fall season at the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships in Newport Beach, Calif. and the ASU Thunderbird Invitational in Tempe, Ariz.
In the absence of head coach Amanda Augustus, assistant coach Zack Warren and the rest of the coaching staff adjusted well.
Three Bears represented Cal in nationals at the Newport Beach Tennis Club. The opening day saw the group win three of its four matches.
The freshmen won their singles’ matches, including Valentina Ivanov beating Yale’s No. 52 Samantha Martinelli. In only their second tournament as a duo, the new doubles pair of junior Anna Bright and freshman Haley Giavara saw further success as they captured a win against Penn’s No. 59 sister duo of Bryzgalova Curnic and Marija Curnic.
Regarding the longtime rivalry between Cal and Stanford, Giavara served a highlight of the tournament when she dispatched 14th-seeded No. 6 Michaela Gordon of the Cardinal in three sets in the round of 32. It was the beginning of a series of upsets in which the freshman also defeated North Carolina’s 4th-seeded No. 4 Alexa Graham in the following round.
Unexpectedly, it was not a top opponent who ended Giavara’s run, but rather No. 125 Megan Davies of South Carolina. Giavara suffered the early exit in the quarterfinals.
“Haley (Giavara) had a tournament to remember. She reached the quarterfinals and was one of only two freshmen in the nation to reach that far in the tournament so a really, really good run for her,” Warren said of Giavara’s early success.
In the doubles main draw, Bright and Giavara would surpass Northern Arizona and Wake Forest to reach the semifinals. The pair battled against top-ranked and top-seeded NC State’s Anna Rogers and Alana Smith, the same duo that defeated juniors Julia Rosenqvist and Hana Mraz at the NCAA Division I women’s tennis tournament last May.
“Haley (Giavara) and Anna (Bright) had a really special run in the semifinals in doubles and came up just short of the finals, losing to the No. 1 team in the country in a super tiebreaker,” Warren said.
Although the loss rounded out matchplay at nationals, it signified an improvement from last year when Bright and junior Jasie Dunk lost in the quarters. As we move closer to the most important event of the season, they can only hope to better their performance.
“Anna (Bright), Haley (Giavara) and Valentina (Ivanov) represented the team at a really, really high level at the fall national championships. They picked up seven significant wins there. Most of these against the top 20 players in the country,” Warren said.
The other half of the team also delivered solid performances at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational. On the first day, Cal managed to secure five victories at the Whiteman Tennis Center.
The tournament saw multiple singles matches against Notre Dame, in which Cal edged the competition. Against Michigan, the Bears fell short, losing two of their three matches against the Wolverines.
Cal’s highest-ranked, No. 24 Rosenqvist served as a standout.
“The ASU crew put together some terrific results with Julia (Rosenqvist) going undefeated in singles and picking up a couple significant wins,” Warren said. “We have a very talented group that is equally eager to work hard, which gives us a ton to look forward to this year.”
The team will start the spring season hosting the Cal Winter Invitational, which is set to take place Jan. 7-9. In the offseason, the team will look to improve and continue working hard.
“I think we just tried to build every week and we’re going to continue to do that. The next two months are really important,” Warren said. “They all have impressive goals that they want to achieve and they’re a confident group, but we’re going to have to take it day by day.”
Margaret Mckay covers field hockey. Contact her at [email protected].