Hungry for more, Bears seek 2 wins at home against No. 8 UCLA, USC

Celine Bellegarda/Staff

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If you ever happen to feed a squirrel on campus (not that you should), you will realize that it is never satisfied. Once it receives the first morsel of food, it will only come back greedy for another bite.

This mindset of the squirrel may just perfectly describe that of Cal women’s tennis. Coming off a dominating 7-0 win Feb. 29 against the San Diego State Aztecs, the Bears only want one thing: to finish the week with two more wins at home. The task ahead, however, seems quite daunting as Cal (2-3) will be playing the No. 8 UCLA Bruins (10-1) on Friday and the USC Trojans (7-4) on Saturday.

Cal women’s tennis is currently ranked No. 21 in the Tennis Channel/USTA College Tennis Top 25. Cal’s players have all dropped slightly in this week’s Oracle ITA rankings, with No. 15 Haley Giavara, No. 34 Valentina Ivanov and No. 57 Julia Rosenqvist in singles. In doubles, Anna Bright and Giavara are also coming in a bit lower at No. 31.

On the other side of the court, UCLA is stacked with high-ranking singles players such as No. 8 Abbey Forbes, No. 9 Elysia Bolton and No. 17 Jada Hart. In terms of doubles, Bolton and Hart are currently ranked No. 1.

Likewise, USC boasts a few ranked singles players, including No. 27 Angela Kulikov and No. 44 Eryn Cayetano. Cayetano and Kulikov are also threats when they join forces, as they rank No. 16 in doubles.

This is not to say that Cal is doomed in this week’s matchups, as several Bears are finding their rhythm in defeating players high up on these charts. The top-to-bottom quality of the team has been the engine that drove the blue and gold to victory.

“I feel like we have much more depth in our lineup,” Rosenqvist said. “The three new freshmen have huge potential, and it feels good because we can mix up the lineup and still feel comfortable wherever we have our players.”

In particular, Giavara’s freshman campaign has been exceptional with upsets over ranked players such as No. 3 Alexa Graham, No. 7 Kelly Chen and No. 12 Michaela Gordon. Her play will likely be a catalyst for Cal’s motivation and confidence.

“We just saw UCLA, so that will be helpful. As for USC, it’s the start of conference so I think the girls will be super motivated after the match against San Diego State,” said head coach Amanda Augustus. “We are not going to make any drastic changes to our game. We just need to keep doing what we’re doing.”

In their last encounter, the Bears fell to the Bruins 7-0. The final scores may be rather deceiving, as Cal put up a good fight, extending several of the singles matches to the third set. This time, however, the Bears may be more comfortable as they are playing in home territory and they know what to expect from the opposing team. Perhaps the momentum from last week’s victory can carry over to this week and help the Bears bounce back strong against the two teams from Southern California.

Alex Lin writes for Bear Bytes. Contact him at [email protected].