With the Pac-12 Championships roughly two weeks away, Cal women’s tennis is approaching the most important stages of its season. The Bears’ recent victory over Oregon and strong performance in defeat against then-No. 7 Pepperdine indicate they are hitting their stride at precisely the right moment.
On Friday, Cal began its weekend on a high note with a narrow 4-3 team win over Oregon in Eugene. After Hannah Viller Moeller and Anna Bright’s 6-4 victory over the Ducks’ Lillian Mould and Janice Tjen clinched the doubles point for the Bears, the blue and gold were unable to pull away from the Ducks for much of singles play.
Oregon responded to Cal’s wins on the second and fifth courts with three wins of its own, and attention shifted to the contest between the Bears’ Moeller and the Ducks’ Uxia Martinez Moral on the fourth court, which would decide the match. Moeller, who had already helped clinch the doubles point for the Bears, then secured the overall team win with a 6-4, 7-6(2) victory. With this, Cal improved to 6-1 in Pac-12 matches, tying Stanford for second place in the conference standings.
The blue and gold then traveled back home for an anticipated match up against Pepperdine on Sunday. The match served as an opportunity for the Bears to face the Waves on home soil, after falling 1-6 to them earlier this season.
Despite dropping the doubles point, the Bears seemed poised for victory after they claimed the first set in 4 of the singles matches. However, after Pepperdine’s Lisa Zaar defeated Cal’s Jada Bui in the first singles match to finish, the Waves’ Taisiya Pachkaleva and Shiori Fukuda each recovered from one-set deficits to secure the win for their team. Even so, Cal would go on to win the remaining three singles matches, bringing the final scoreline to 4-3 in favor of the southern Californian powerhouse.
For the Bears, the sharp contrast between the scorelines in their matches with the Waves gives them reason to be optimistic about their prospects in the coming weeks.
“I think we’re in a fantastic spot,” said Cal women’s tennis head coach Amanda Augustus. “We went from losing 6-1 and now it was 4-3 and we had opportunities to win. Of course, we always want to win but you have to look at the bigger picture.”
The Bears (13-4) will next make a trip to Los Angeles where they will face USC on Friday, followed by No. 9 UCLA on Saturday.
The Trojans are 11-6 on the season, and rank fourth in the Pac-12 with a conference record of 5-2. USC’s Naomi Cheong and Eryn Cayetano are ranked 69th and 123rd individually, respectively. Saturday’s contest against UCLA marks the third time the Bears will face the Bruins this season. Since losing in a 4-3 thriller against Cal in the teams’ last matchup, UCLA has won 8 of its last 9 matches, with its sole loss coming against Pepperdine.
Regardless of their recent string of high-level tennis, the Bears remain focused on continuing to improve as they head into the postseason.
“We’ve been getting better each week, and we’ll keep working on the things we need to work on,” Augustus said.
Milad Shafaie covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected]