Cal women’s tennis is in the middle of its busiest week of the season. Between the Saint Mary’s Invitational and the ITA Women’s All-American Championships, it is competing every day from Oct. 1-10. The aforementioned marathon began at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California, a chapter which concluded with mixed results across the board. While there were some success stories, Cal did not take home a victory in any category.
Junior Erin Richardson delivered the top performance for the blue and gold at the Saint Mary’s Invitational. The talented athlete from England excelled in both singles and doubles play. In singles, she managed to move through the beginning of her bracket into the top 16. There, she faced Fresno State’s Pang Jittakoat. Jittakoat held a 14-4 overall singles record as a freshman at Washington State — but Richardson was able to defeat her.
Richardson then proceeded to make quick work of SMC’s own junior Gabriela Tevez in the quarterfinals, with a commanding 6-1, 6-2 victory. But Richardson’s run in the top-flight came to an end in the semifinals, where she was unable to get past Colorado’s Antonia Balzert. Balzert was celebrating her birthday Sunday, and gifted herself a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Richardson. She went onto finish second at the tournament, one of the best finishes in her collegiate career. Balzert had a very happy birthday indeed.
Richardson’s tournament run did not end with the singles tournament due to the fact that she also put together an impressive doubles run with her partner and fellow Bear, sophomore Cami Brown. Brown also made it to the quarterfinals on her own, but her biggest success of the tournament came while she was paired with Richardson. They bounced back from an early loss to storm all the way to the finals of the consolation bracket. Even though they didn’t make it past the consolation bracket, it was still a very impressive result for the Cal doubles tandem.
The most surprising success of the whole weekend came from the blue and gold’s senior Julia Rosenqvist, who entered the tournament seeded outside of the top hundred. Despite her low seed, the Swedish senior made it all the way to the round of 16 in the top-flight singles bracket, upsetting multiple competitors who were higher seeded on the way to this stellar result.
Rosenqvist was even more impressive on the doubles side, where she made it all the way to the top-flight semifinals with her partner, freshman Makenna Thiel. Thiel was born in Berkeley and grew up nearby in the East Bay. After dominating the Bay Area high school scene, she decided Berkeley would remain her home base. The freshman’s run with Rosenqvist came to an end against FSU’s duo of Dalia Ahmed and Pam Jittakoat, who got her revenge after her loss to Cal in singles.
The Bears had no time to rest after the tournament ended, and proceeded to travel all the way to South Carolina for the ITA Women’s All-American Championships beginning the next day. The marathon of the season continues in Charleston, where this promising Cal squad has the chance to win big against the best teams in the country. Though they were unable to hold any hardware at this past leg, they must keep running towards the finish line and take advantage of the many opportunities ahead.
Casey Grae covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].