Cal defeats St. Mary’s in home opener, improves to 2-1

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Maya Valluru/Staff

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Just a block away from the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Cal men’s tennis battled through wind gusts and jazz music to defeat the Gaels from St. Mary’s College 5-2.

The Bears won their first doubles point of the season after whiffing against Tulsa and Tulane. This included a win from the team of freshmen Mikey Wright and Alex Chang (6-2) and the doubles-point-clinching win from the 15th-ranked team of senior Yuta Kikuchi and freshman Carl Emil Overbeck (7-5).

During singles competition, Cal continued its great play as Overbeck dominated Diego Jarry 6-2, 6-1 on court four in his singles match. Kikuchi was next to finish in a tough 6-2, 6-2 loss to 6’9” senior James Watt on court one.

On court two, Cal senior Philip Hjorth defeated St. Mary’s junior Caelan Potts in dominant fashion, winning the first set 6-3 and not dropping a single game in the second set.

“Conditions were tricky, especially with the wind and the gusts we were experiencing,” Hjorth said. “After a set of playing, you get into the rhythm of it and (in the second set), you could start playing a little bit more aggressively being comfortable in the conditions.”

Sophomore Lucas Magnaudet clinched the match for Cal with a solid 6-2, 6-3 victory over St. Mary’s freshman Carlos Ramos Membrives on court five.

In his return to singles action after arthroscopic knee surgery in December, Wright lost in three sets to Thibaud Maxant on court six despite a dominant first set, scoring 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.

“For Mikey, he just needs to build up a little bit of stamina,” said head coach Kris Kwinta. “He plays an aggressive style. Just got to keep building and getting more experience. I’m sure the butterflies come when you play in front of your parents and friends, first time on the court in your dream school. So it’s going to take you some time to adjust, but he did a great job in doubles.”

Cal graduate student and Berkeley local Sean Hill capped off the victory with a gutsy  6-3, 7-6(5) win over St. Mary’s senior Karlo Divkovic.

This match was also head coach Kris Kwinta’s home debut and his first win at home as director of men’s tennis.

“It’s always special,” Kwinta said. “After not having a season for two years, to be able to see so many familiar faces and so many people that follow the team and are passionate about the success of this program and these kids. It was really uplifting and that’s what we do.”

Cal players were very vocal on and off the court, cheering their fellow teammates on throughout the afternoon. Hjorth was also a big part of Cal’s vocal presence throughout the afternoon.

“That’s especially because we have such a young team,” Hjorth said. “Yuta and I are the ones that are forging the way and trying to pump them up as well even if they’re on court six or they’re on court one. So we’re really trying to get that vibe going.”

Cal improved to 2-1 on the season after its victory and will have two weeks to prepare for its first Pac-12 match of the season against No. 25 UCLA at home.

Abhi Erra covers men’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].