Cal women’s tennis looks to claim a victory at ITA Kick-Off Weekend opener

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Cal women’s tennis looks to carry on its hot start to the year at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Kick-Off in Lawrence, Kansas this weekend. The ITA Kick-Off Weekend features 60 teams split into groups of four, with one team hosting three others. The winner of each group will move on to the National Women’s Team Indoor Championship, a single-elimination tournament seeking to crown a national indoors champion in college women’s tennis held in early February.

The Bears, currently ranked No. 16 in the country, will face Virginia on Friday in the first of what the team hopes will be many upcoming dual-matches in the ITA Tournament.

Having won 27 out of 34 matches against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Saint Mary’s at the Cal Winter Invitational, the blue and gold hope to continue the same level of excellence against other similarly ranked schools.

Along with No. 20 ranked UVA, Cal will also play either the winner between host No. 19 Kansas and No. 22 Tennessee in the championship match of the regional, or the loser in the consolation match on Saturday. All three of Cal’s opponents have won their season openers with 7-0 blowouts on their way to perfect records, while the Bears have not been tested in ITA official play. The Cavaliers, in particular, have shown their competence. Virginia, led by No. 30 ranked freshman Natasha Subhash, smashed Townson in approximately two hours in their first team game of the season.

However, Cal features several players in the top 100 of ITA’s Division I rankings from last fall. Freshmen Valentina Ivanov and Haley Giavara took the No. 20 and No. 21 spots in the singles rankings for their strong play in the first half of the season, while junior Julia Rosenqvist ranked No. 45 and junior Anna Bright ranked No. 100. Rosenqvist took the singles title two weeks ago at the Cal Winter Invitational, repeating her title from the year prior.

Bright also appeared twice in the doubles rankings: No. 13 with Giavara and No. 55 with Ivanov. Bright and Giavara claimed the doubles title at the Winter Invitational.

Cal looks to outplay their showing at the ITA Kick-Off last year, where they fell to host No. 14 South Carolina, 4-1, and lost the spot at the Indoor Championship. An upset occurred, however, as then-sophomore Rosenqvist defeated South Carolina’s No. 12 Ingrid Martins in singles play. Cal then regrouped to beat No. 11 Florida in the consolation match, 4-3, as former Cal women’s tennis co-captain Olivia Hauger took down Florida’s Ida Jarlskog in a victory-clinching match.

The Bears look forward to making some noise in the ITA Kick-Off this weekend and securing a berth in the upcoming National Team Indoor Championship next month.

Teddy Park covers women’s tennis, the Daily Californian’s sports blog. Contact him at [email protected].