In any situation, the road to success can be long. The path can be twisted, with hills galore and plenty of barriers, difficulties and obstacles to overcome. A team’s path to success can be just as lengthy. For a team with as long of a season as Cal women’s tennis, this bumpy road is to be expected.
The team is set to play Utah on Friday and Colorado on Sunday as it continues Pac-12 play at home and starts its marathon two weeks, playing UCLA and USC on consecutive days next week.
“It’s all about how you grow as a team and get better,” said Cal head coach Amanda Augustus. “Tennis is a great sport, and you have a lot of opportunities to compete.”
Early Pac-12 play for the team this season will be an important potential turning point. It is imperative to set up wins early on to create momentum.
The Bears had a strong start to the season, confidently winning against the teams they were expected to beat. In other words, the path started off without any major roadblocks. Dropping only a couple of matches in their first few tournaments in January, they breezed through the early part of the season.
Against their first real challenge of the season, the blue and gold showed resilience: Cal women’s tennis beat then-No. 2 Pepperdine. At the ITA Kickoff Weekend, the stakes became higher still. A win for the Bears earned them a spot in the indoor nationals. And so, stellar tennis propelled Cal to nationals in Madison, Wisconsin, after 4-0 wins against BYU and Vanderbilt.
Just ahead of nationals, however, the team lost against Michigan, a notoriously challenging indoor opponent. Soon after, despite a solid attempt at nationals, the Bears fell in the quarter finals to Pepperdine. Two more losses against strong teams, UCLA and Texas, highlighted just how tough the road to success can be.
Despite some losses along the road, the team seems to be staying on path, having earned its first Pac-12 win earlier this month against Oregon. Despite this being an easier matchup — its opponents were ranked No. 49 compared to Cal’s No. 10 — the team managed to win while showing off some great gameplay.
As their Pac-12 matches continue, the Bears hope to continue the high level of tennis they showed against Oregon and work on what set them back earlier in the season. According to Augustus, a lot of this features around closing out important points and following through, especially in doubles.
While the team had some time off last week not playing any matches, it could change up how it trained.
“We can train harder instead of taking it lightly,” said Cal’s court-one player Haley Giavara. “It’s nice to train knowing you don’t have a match coming up because you can train differently and longer.”
Something else for fans to watch out for will be doubles pairings: The coaching team has been playing around with the teams to ensure Cal has a strong start in all of its matches. At the start of the spring season, the team kept Jessica Alsola and Erin Richardson together — a pair who had great success in the fall season, reaching the semifinals of regionals and playing in fall nationals.
After trouble earning the doubles point, however, the coaches switched the teams, with Richardson playing alongside senior Julia Rosenqvist and Alsola teaming up with Cal’s new freshman, Katja Wiersholm, for the majority of the following matches. As the coaching team solidifies the doubles teams, this will certainly be an area to look out for.
A strong start in Pac-12 play will be important as the season begins to close out. En route to the Pac-12 championships, the road may be bumpy, but it very may well lead to success.
Maria Kholodova covers women’s tennis. Contact her at [email protected].