Cal brings momentum as it seeks to show off skills in La Jolla

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Kyle Garcia Takata/Staff

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Fresh off of back-to-back, sweeping victories against Army and UNLV, Cal men’s tennis carries good momentum as it prepares for the Pacific Coast Men’s Doubles Championship. The Bears will send their doubles teams down to the La Jolla tournament in San Diego from March 3-6, headlined by the No. 2-seeded duo of Yuta Kikuchi and Carl Overbeck.

Rebounding from a tough 0-4 loss to rival Stanford, the Bears have established a two-game win streak with their past couple of dual matches. Cal has improved its record to 5-3, and is looking to continue to keep climbing the national team rankings.

“Everyone came out fired,” said head coach Kris Kwinta. “We had two weeks of work to prepare for these two matches, and we did a pretty good job getting all the guys physically and mentally ready, as well as strategically too.”

The Bears took down both Army and UNLV 7-0, while only dropping one set. These consecutive performances are primary reasons why Cal has been able to achieve its No. 38 overall rank in the country.

Kikuchi and Overbeck, in particular, have found enormous success as doubles partners since the beginning of the season — the two players have yet to lose a match together this year.

“They are definitely one of the top teams in the country, and they can go toe-to-toe with anybody,” Kwinta said. “They have shown that they are a top, top, top pair, and I’m looking forward to them developing their game even more, and (this tournament) is going to be a test for who they really are.”

Even with their impressive performances, the duo looks to face tough competition from Alexandre Rotsaert and Arthur Fery, Stanford’s top doubles team in the upcoming tournament. The two arrive in La Jolla as the No. 1-seeded team to beat.

Although it does not impact the team’s record like its other dual matches, the Pacific Coast championships tournament still carries a lot of weight. It will be an important opportunity for the Bears to showcase their skills on a prestigious stage and experiment with different formations.

A successful showing for Cal in the upcoming tournament would mean a lot to the blue and gold, as it would help energize them moving forward and send a message to current and future opponents.

“It sends a statement. Everyone knows that we are a good team, and that we’ve won a good number of doubles matches so far and that we showed up some teams, and we want to continue that trend,” Kwinta said, “But I don’t worry about what the other teams think about us so much; I just want the guys to continue developing their game and improving their strokes, their confidence and their understanding of the game.”

Even without its team’s record at stake, this week’s tournament will serve to showcase Cal’s best. Moving forward, the Bears’ performance here could steer them in the right direction for the rest of the season.

Ethan Preston covers men’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].