Bears seek success in spite of rainy forecast at ITA Regionals

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Sunny Shen/Senior Staff

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As the fire season in California is ramping up, many see a rainy forecast ahead as a miracle. The fresh smell, watered plants and dampened wildfires are things that can only bring positives.

For Cal women’s tennis, however, it might bring trouble.

On Sunday, the Bears will hedge their bets at the ITA Northwest Regional Championships at Stanford. A bad forecast will mean a litany of rescheduling and could be a nightmare for the Bears seeking success following Jessica Alsola’s stunning win at the Cal Fall Invitational in September. The threat of needing to reschedule or wait on results can lead to very long days.

“That may be our biggest opponent this weekend,” said head coach Amanda Augustus about the rain.

Aside from freshman Alsola’s victory in singles at the Cal Fall Invitational, doubles teams Haley Giavara and Valentina Ivanov, as well as Erin Richardson and Makenna Thiel, both won their respective doubles events. Coming away with the top-flight doubles victory for the former and the Gold doubles title for the latter, the Bears had a triumphant early tournament on the home turf of the blue and gold.

Early in October at ITA All-Americans, three Bears won their qualifying singles openers but fell in the round of 32. Alsola, who brought Cal the win at the Fall Invitational, lost 6-3, 7-5 to Pepperdine’s 44th-ranked Taisiya Pachkaleva. Australian Bear Ivanov dropped two sets to Carmen Corley of Oklahoma, losing out 6-1, 6-3.

Nevertheless, morale is looking strong as they seek a good run at the Taube Family Tennis Center. They will be facing all of the teams in the Northwest region –– a mighty task, but one the Bears are ready to take on with confidence.

As the season is heading toward its end, the stakes could not be higher: a place in the final at these championships serve as automatic qualifiers for the ITA National Fall Championships that will take place in early November in San Diego.

Because of the pandemic, last year’s ITA Regionals were canceled. The last time the Bears played in the event –– back in 2019 –– Cal’s fifth-seeded Ivanov lost 6-4, 7-5 in the semifinals, as did doubles team Anna Bright and Giavara. This year, back on the court in a more-or-less proper season, the Bears are looking for success and to maximize their performance.

Augustus believes the national and regional events Cal have played so far have been a buildup to this event. The event also involves all of the players in the same draw, helping coaches assess where the players are at going forward in the season and looking at the spring.

“If we’ve been doing our job right as coaches we should be seeing the Bears do quite well at this event,” Augustus said. “We won the Pac-12 last year, and we want to keep continuing to set the tone and get better.”

The players that qualify for the national championships will compete in San Diego starting Nov. 4, and others will travel to the ASU Thunderbird Invitational in Tempe, Arizona.

As the end of its season is just around the corner, Cal women’s tennis is looking confident as the team gets back into the swing of matches following a long, pandemic-induced break.

Ready to face the regionals, the Bears look ahead and hope to score a place at the National Fall Championships in November. With the entire team in one draw, there is an abundance of Bears for fans of the blue and gold to cheer on this coming weekend.

Maria Kholodova covers women’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected].