Roller coasters are often used as an analogy for what a team should expect from any given season, as squads will inevitably face unanticipated twists and turns. Indeed, after riding high on a five-match win streak, the No. 12 Cal women’s tennis team experienced an unexpected dip Friday in Boulder when it was upset 4-3 by unranked Colorado in its first Pac-12 conference match of the season.
As has been the case with most of Cal’s matches this season, doubles play was key in the overall outcome of the match. This time, however, the Bears came out on the losing end of the doubles point after dropping matches on the first and third courts.
Although the Bears initially recovered well in singles with efficient wins from Haley Giavara, Julia Rosenqvist and Anna Bright, they ultimately came up inches short in their efforts to push past the determined Buffs. After Colorado’s Megan Forster defeated Valentina Ivanov 6-4 6-3, Maria Campos and Ky Ecton both recovered from first-set losses on the fourth and sixth court, respectively, to give the Buffs their first win over a California Pac-12 school in the modern scoring era of NCAA tennis. Notably, Cal’s Erin Richardson failed to convert two match points against Ecton, which would have secured the team victory for the blue and gold.
“For a lot of our players it was our first Pac-12 road match ever,” said Cal women’s tennis head coach Amanda Augustus. “I think our inexperience in that situation played a role”
But the Bears refused to allow this misstep to affect their confidence moving forward. Only two days after the team’s defeat to Colorado, Cal swept Utah 7-0, handing the Utes just their second loss at home this year. The Bears sprinted to a 1-0 lead after Richardson and Roseqvist’s win on the third court clinched the doubles point for the Bears. For Cal, this signaled a return to normalcy.
“Me and Valentina (Ivanov) felt super in sync and energized, and we felt that energy throughout the rest of the team” Giavara, who teamed with Ivanov for a 6-2 victory in the doubles line, said. “That was one of our goals today.”
Cal continued to showcase the tennis that earned the program its top-15 national ranking throughout singles play, sweeping all six matches. Freshman Jada Bui, who did not play against Colorado, returned to action against Utah, completing the Bears’ singles lineup once again. Bui was the lone player to drop a set for Cal in singles, but she recovered to extend her unbeaten record this season. With the win, the Bears improved to 7-2 on the season and leveled their Pac-12 Conference record at 1-1.
Cal is set to face the University of San Diego in San Diego this Sunday in a nonconference match that was scheduled after Cal’s match against No. 2 Texas was canceled earlier this season. The Toreros are 5-2 this season, with their sole losses coming against USC and then-No.3 UCLA. San Diego’s number one singles player, Solymar Colling, is currently ranked No. 61 in the ITA singles rankings.
Augustus, who was pleased that her team would visit the Barnes Tennis Center, the site of this year’s Pac-12 championships, sees the match up against USD as a chance to gauge the team’s progress.
“(San Diego) is a solid team,” Augustus said. “We’ll get to see where we’re at after these Pac-12 matches.”
Milad Shafaie covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].