Pairs of Bears succeed in Pacific Coast Men’s Doubles Championship

Photo of Cal Men's Tennis player hitting the ball
Nora Povejsil/Senior Staff

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The Pacific Coast Men’s Doubles Championship saw five pairs of Bears compete for the title. In a surprising twist, while none of the teams won a title in the main draw, the coaching tandem of head coach Kris Kwinta and assistant coach Francis Sargeant took the court and won in the consolation bracket.

We’ll get to that later, but first, let’s see how Cal played in the main draw.

Graduate transfer Sean Hill and sophomore Lucas Magnaudet lost their first round match to Dario Huber and Shunya Maruyama 4-5 (2), 1-4. Senior Philip Hjorth and freshman Alex Chang fell to the 16th seeded pair of Juan Jose Bianchi and Max Motlagh 2-4, 2-4 in the first round. Fellow 16th seeds Kwinta and Sargeant lost in their first round match to Ian Freer and Matthew Robinson 4-5 (3), 2-4.

The freshman squad of Michael Wright and Derrick Chen upset the ninth-seeded team of Zhengqing Ji and Zachary Pellouchoud in a close 2-4, 4-1, 7-5 win. Wright and Chen then advanced to the third round after defeating John Zisette and Kyle Sillman 4-1, 5-4 (13). The pair would not fare as well in the third round as it would lose to UCLA’s fourth-seeded Stefan Leustian and Bryce Pereira 2-4, 2-4. Despite the third-round exit, the freshmen’s success in the tournament is a good indicator of the bright future ahead for Cal beyond this season.

Meanwhile the all-star tandem of senior Yuta Kikuchi and freshman Carl Emil Overbeck (seeded second) breezed through the first round, defeating T. Solomon Liu and John Weiss 4-0, 4-0. Kikuchi and Overbeck would then defeat Enrique Luque Rico and Eric Hadigian 4-2, 5-4 (4) in the second round.

Facing match point in an extremely close third-round match against Sebastian Bader and Eric Tseng, Kikuchi and Overbeck caught somewhat of a break as Bader and Tseng were forced to retire. In the round of 16, Kikuchi and Overbeck would be eliminated from the tournament by Nic Wiedenhorn and Victor Moreno in a tough 4-6, 4-6 upset loss.

Kikuchi and Overbeck had not lost a match together in the year 2022 before that loss to Wiedenhorn and Moreno, making their run in the tournament a bit disappointing. The two will look to refocus as they head into the Pac-12 season fairly soon.

“We now understand better how and what we can do with the team to improve their games,” said Kwinta. “So that was a very positive weekend for us to get better for the season for the Pac-12.”

The consolation bracket saw all three Cal teams that lost in the first round advance to the quarterfinals. Kwinta and Sargeant would defeat Hjorth and Chang in the quarterfinals in a tough 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (5) win. Meanwhile, Hill and Magnaudet advanced to the finals where they ran into their red-hot coaches. Kwinta and Sargeant would defeat Hill and Magnaudet in a thrilling three-set match, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

“It was fun to play against our guys and against other competition and share the court with all the Bears,” said Kwinta. “So it’s always a celebration of the sport.”

Despite disappointing results in the main draw, Cal went into the tournament in La Jolla expecting to learn more about themselves and their play on the court while having fun in a tournament setting and did just that. Cal will look to carry its positives from the tournament into the coming weekend when it takes on Santa Clara on Friday and Utah on Sunday at the Hellman Tennis Complex in Berkeley.

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