Cool, calm and collected. Cal women’s tennis showed an excellent performance against Oregon to start off its Pac-12 play, beating its opponent 5-2 overall. On Sunday, the No. 10 Bears played at home once again, coming off of an overall good first part of the season, but also some top-10 losses.
Three singles matches especially stood out.
On court two, freshman Jessica Alsola played confidently and without hesitation. Right from the get-go, the No. 48-ranked player showed great tennis, with accurate shot placement and excellent serves and returns. She beat her opponent 6-1, 6-2.
“(Jessica) competes really well in dual matches for a freshman,” said head coach Amanda Augustus. “That girl was really tough, as was (Katja Wiersholm)’s opponent, so to get those victories in straight sets was pretty important for the momentum.”
Katja Wiersholm’s match was another that caught fans’ attention — the freshman, who joined the team this semester, won another match for the Bears and has yet to show any singles losses. Down a break early in the second set, Wiersholm fought back to take the win 6-1, 6-4, and clinch the overall match. Showing off some powerful backhands and a great serve, she proved just how well she fits in on the team.
On court four, junior Valentina Ivanov had a tougher match against Oregon’s Lillian Mould. The junior’s opponent was very aggressive, at times challenging the long rallies and slower-paced matches that Ivanov prefers. For a player who is normally quite confident in the execution of her shots, she seemed to have trouble following through on the court.
Despite this, the match was very close.
The first set tiebreak left neither player more than a couple of points behind. Ivanov ended up taking the tiebreak, and the first set 7-6(7). Despite an early break in the second set, the junior managed to turn the set around and come out stronger, taking five of the last six games and winning the set 6-4.
“Her experience won out there,” Augustus said. “She stayed in there. She wasn’t feeling her best today, but she figured out a way to get through it.”
As for the rest of the singles matches, there was only one loss for the blue and gold. Freshman Makenna Thiel fell in straight sets to Oregon’s Karin Young, losing out 6-4, 6-4.
Cal’s other loss was in doubles — perhaps unexpected given how well the team has been doing in doubles in recent matches. The coaching staff mixed up the teams, with Alsola playing alongside sophomore Jada Bui, making this Bui’s first match for the Bears this season.
Augustus said the team could have been more aggressive with its volleys, which is something it plans to work on in the coming weeks. Haley Giavara and Ivanov on court one produced the only doubles win of the day, beating out the Oregon pair, 6-3. All of the doubles matches saw exciting rallies with especially close matches on courts two and three.
“There’s still some stuff that can be cleaned up, but overall we did a good job of getting the shots we needed,” Giavara said. “We still had a few mistakes, but we didn’t let it get to us so that they could capitalize on it. It could’ve turned at one point and we did a good job of not letting them get it.”
After a solid start to Pac-12 play, the Bears have some time to train more intensely to prepare for the rest of the season. According to Giavara, it is nice to have time off and train without preparing for a match. The blue and gold faithful hope that the team remains confident as it continues its conference play.
Maria Kholodova covers women’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected].