Facing off against two nationally ranked teams in nonconference matches, Cal split its two matches this weekend, defeating No. 23 UCLA 4-0 and losing a close match against No. 8 USC 2-4.
Against UCLA on Saturday, Cal’s doubles teams played extremely well. The 15th-ranked team of senior Yuta Kikuchi and freshman Carl Emil Overbeck defeated freshman Alexander Hoogmartens and redshirt sophomore Bryce Pereira 6-4. Cal clinched the doubles point with a 6-3 win from graduate transfer Sean Hill and sophomore Lucas Magnaudet over junior Drew Baird and senior Max Wild.
As the competition moved to singles, Overbeck defeated No. 96 Stefan Leustian (a sophomore) in dominant fashion 6-1, 6-4 on court four, and Magnaudet defeated redshirt freshman Jeffrey Fradkin 7-6 (2), 6-0 on court six.
Kikuchi clinched the match for Cal on court one with an impressive three-set victory over Baird 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.
One day after defeating the No. 3 team in the country, Cal moved on to face No. 8 USC, who were fresh off a 4-1 loss of its own against No. 12 Stanford on Saturday.
The upstart team of Hill and Magnaudet won their doubles match, defeating graduate student Paul Barretto and junior Ryder Jackson by a score of 6-2. Once again Cal clinched the doubles point with a win from the Kikuchi/Overbeck pairing; this time, the 15th-ranked doubles team in the nation defeated the 10th-ranked doubles team of junior Stefan Dostanic and senior Bradley Frye in a dominant 6-2 win.
In singles competition, Magnaudet lost 6-3, 6-2 to freshman Ryan Colby on court six. Overbeck lost 6-3, 6-0 on court four to No. 35 Peter Makk (freshman). Cal would fall behind 3-1 after senior Philip Hjorth’s 6-2, 6-1 loss to freshman Wojciech Marek. Hill would bring the overall score to 3-2 with a gritty victory over No. 70 Bradley Frye with a score of 7-6(4), 7-5.
Cal would go on to lose 4-2 after an intense match between Cal freshman Derrick Chen and No. 40 Lodewijk Weststrate (sophomore). Chen would lose in a tough 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 defeat. There was quite a bit of drama during the match that may have stemmed from Weststrate’s frustration with the noise from Chen’s teammates and fans, and it resulted in yelling and point penalties.
“It wouldn’t be a good collegiate tennis match if there was no drama, right?” said Cal head coach Kris Kwinta. “(Derrick’s) young, and he’s just learning how to act in certain tough situations. And it was a great collegiate atmosphere. We brought the energy so I’m looking forward to more battles like that.”
The only unfinished singles match was Kikuchi’s match against No. 6 Stefan Dostanic. Kikuchi was dominant in the first set, winning it 6-0, before dropping the second set 4-6. Kikuchi led the third set 5-1 but could not finish off the match. The third set would end with Kikuchi leading 5-4.
“I know that I have so many choices every time I play these great players,” Kikuchi said. “This was a home match so I know that I have a chance and it’s hard that I couldn’t finish. I had two service games (to win the match) and I lost them. But it’s so positive to have this opportunity to almost get him.”
Despite the loss to USC, Kwinta is proud of his boys for their fight.
“Everybody fought hard. They left it all on the line,” Kwinta said after the loss. “Could we have played better today a little bit in certain spots? 100%. There’s always something you leave on the table, but the amount that they have grown over the last month is incredible. I’m very happy for this team. I’m proud of the way they played today.”
With the loss to USC, Cal moves to 3-2 on the year. Cal will look to carry on its positivity through to the Big Slam on the road against No. 12 Stanford this Saturday. Stanford has the No. 7 singles player in the country in sophomore Arthur Fery and two ranked doubles teams (Fery/Alexandre Rotsaert and Max Basing/Timothy Sah). Stanford is 5-0 and has already defeated four top-25 teams in the country.