The new year is winding into full swing, which means resolutions will either fall off the wagon or persist — at least for a few more weeks. But for Cal women’s tennis, the chance to showcase resolution efforts is just approaching.
The Bears will open their 2020 spring campaign at home as they host the Cal Winter Invitational starting Tuesday, an event they dominated last year. A triumph here would serve as a springboard for the spring season, a season for which assistant coach Zack Warren said the team has “impressive goals.”
Just before 2019 wrapped up, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association released its final rankings of the fall season. In the individual rankings, the ITA held quite a few Bears in high regard with freshmen Valentina Ivanov and Haley Giavara ranking No. 20 and 21 overall, followed by junior Julia Rosenqvist at No. 45. As for doubles, Giavara and junior Anna Bright stand at No. 13 in the nation. Furthermore, Bright’s pairing with Ivanov places No. 55.
The Oracle ITA National Fall Championships was arguably the Bears’ most important event in the first half of this season, as the blue and gold sent Ivanov, Giavara and Bright to the November event in Newport Beach. Their respective performances at this event were final contributions to the above rankings, which reflect strong performances at Nationals.
Giavara reached the quarterfinals of this tournament and was one of just two freshmen to make it to that round of the event, upsetting a 14 seed and a four seed along the way. Giavara’s efforts did not stop with doubles, however, as she and Bright advanced all the way to the semifinals before losing to No. 1 ranked and first-seeded Alana Smith and Anna Rogers of North Carolina State. Ivanov also fared well in Newport on her own, as she reached the round of 32 before falling to second seed Abbey Forbes of UCLA.
Although freshmen have stood tall this season for Cal, the Bears cruised to victory without such young presence last year at the Cal Winter Invite, and will seek to do so again this season with their newly bolstered roster.
Last year’s Cal Winter Invite pitted Cal against Cal Poly, Fresno State and Saint Mary’s, and the Bears walked away with singles and doubles titles. The narrative of last year’s tournament, however, focused more on Cal’s consistent dominance throughout the three-day competition than the final result. This was evident as the Bears won 10 matches on their first day of competition and dropped not a sole singles match over the entire three-day event.
Rain played a significant factor in canceling a few matches in last year’s Cal Winter Invitational and although showers are forecasted for Thursday’s morning matches, the Bears will likely hold strong as they did in the season prior.
Team rankings are yet to release for the 2020 season, but last April’s standings hold Cal at No. 14. While the Bears were unable to cap off their spring 2019 campaign with a national title as they fell to sixth seeded and sixth ranked Pepperdine in the round of 32, some of their “impressive goals” include a successful trip to the national stage this year.
It all starts with the beginning of the spring season, the beginning of a year’s worth of potential resolution bounty — the Cal Winter Invitational.
Ethan Waters is an assistant sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].