With five straight victories in the books, Cal men’s tennis has found the recipe for success. The Bears handily defeated Purdue 5-2 at home, ending the Boilermakers’ four-match win streak and improving to 8-3 on the season.
Both rosters came into the dual match with sizable amounts of momentum. Cal had just defeated Santa Clara, as well as then-No. 22 Utah. These consecutive victories are what helped put the team at No. 32 in the most recent national rankings.
Purdue, on the other hand, had also found similar success in recent weeks, defeating St. Louis (twice), Eastern Illinois and Bellarmine. This recent success, however, did not faze the Bears.
“I actually didn’t know they won four in a row,” said Cal head coach Kris Kwinta. “I never check the stats, I never care about rankings, I just respect the opponent: They flew all the way here to take us down, and they played well, so the goal was to make sure the guys were ready to compete.”
Cal came out with a bit of a rocky start to begin doubles play, with Yuta Kikuchi and Carl Overbeck even falling behind 0-3 to Purdue’s Michal Wozniak and Piotr Galus to start on Court 1. The Bears stormed back though, eventually sweeping all of the doubles matches to take an early 1-0 lead.
The momentum carried on for the blue and gold as both sides entered into singles-match play. Kikuchi, despite falling behind again 0-3 to Purdue’s Athell Bennett, came back to win 6-4, 6-4.
“Both times the opponent played pretty good, they studied pretty well, with great energies, and we just focused, we had to trust our processes and what we did in practice,” Kikuchi said. “It was a great comeback mentally, physically and energy-wise. We did a pretty good job.”
Alongside Kikuchi, Sean Hill defeated Tomasz Dudek, Overbeck defeated Rohan Sachdev and Derrick Chen defeated Wozniak, all in two sets, to bring the Bears to 5 points on the day.
The only Bears to lose their matches were Lucas Magnaudet and Philip Hjorth, who fell just short to Gabriele Brancatelli in a lively and heated back-and-forth nail-biter that ended in a tiebreaker.
Cal ultimately defeated Purdue 5-2, allowing the team to maintain its winning streak and maintain their recently found momentum.
“I’m happy that (we won) five in a row,” Kwinta said. “(We got) some big matches ahead of us, we just got to be ready one at a time, it’s just a building process. I’m happy with the direction in which we’re going right now.”
With the Purdue match behind them, Cal will move on to face Yale on Saturday and No. 56 Cal Poly on Sunday. Both these matches are at home, giving the squad more opportunities to build off the energy that it has built in the recent weeks.