Cal prepares to face Santa Clara, undefeated Utah at home

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Nora Povejsil/Staff

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With the Pacific Coast championships tournament behind them, Cal men’s tennis prepares to reenter dual-match play. The Bears will be facing off at home against Santa Clara on Friday and No. 22 Utah on Sunday, which is entering this weekend’s match with a perfect 16-0 record.

Cal took a break last week from its normal dual-match schedule, as it competed in the annual Pacific Coast championships doubles tournament. After getting the opportunity to demonstrate its skills to other teams, the team hopes to use what it learned at the tournament in its matchups against Utah and Santa Clara.

“We definitely have a better understanding of what (we need to work on), and we spent a couple days here just cleaning up some things,” said Cal head coach Kris Kwinta. “We’re just excited to put it to work for our dual matches this weekend, so we’re really looking forward to how this is going to translate.”

With a two dual-match win streak from before last week’s tournament, Cal heads into this weekend with a substantial amount of momentum. Cal delivered sweeping victories against both Army and UNLV, which helped provide the squad with some momentum.

The Bears are now heading toward the homestretch of the season, with only dual-match play remaining until the Pac-12 championships. Even during this important part of the season, the team is not worried about the implications of the upcoming matches.

“I don’t even think about the stakes, to be honest,” Kwinta said. “I approach every match as an opportunity to put into play what we’ve been training and working on, and see the guys implement (what we have coached them to do). To me, it’s (the) most important expression of practice: This is the real deal.”

The first opponent Cal faces this weekend will be Santa Clara. The Broncos have dropped three straight dual matches in a row, including losses to UC Irvine, UCSB and Florida Atlantic, and they now sit at a record of 4-5.

Utah, on the other hand, will be coming to Berkeley as one of the hottest teams in the country. With a perfect 16-0 record and its No. 22 standing, it is one of the two remaining undefeated teams in the country at this point in the season, alongside No. 69 Montana. The Utes should prove themselves to be one of the most difficult opponents that Cal has faced during this entire season.

“I know they are 16-0, and what I want them to experience is facing the toughest opponent they’ve had this season,” Kwinta said. “I want to spoil the 16-0 record, and that’s the plan.”

A win over both Santa Clara and especially Utah would be a significant achievement for the blue and gold, and it would set them up nicely as they get ready for the remainder of the season.

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