Cal breaks 7-game winning streak with falls to UCLA, USC

photo of cal men's tennis player hitting the ball
Nora Povejsil/Senior Staff

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Unfortunately, nothing gold can stay. Cal men’s tennis had its seven-game winning streak snapped this past weekend, in which it fell to both UCLA and USC on its road trip to Los Angeles, bringing its record on the season to 10-5.

Cal’s Friday match against UCLA marked the first road dual match for the squad since Feb. 12, when it traveled south to face off against rival Stanford. The Bears, despite looking good early in doubles play, ultimately fell 4-1 to the No. 49 Bruins.

Cal faced an even taller opponent the next day, Saturday, when it squared off against No. 15 USC. The Bears, despite a late comeback effort, also fell to the Trojans 4-2.

“We need to make a few adjustments to play our best in stressful environments,” said Cal head coach Kris Kwinta, reflecting on his key takeaways from this weekend’s pair of matches. “That’s going to be reflected in practice: just changing the way we practice a little bit and getting the guys used to stressful environments.”

The Bears opened up strong and impressive against UCLA. The pairings of Alex Chang and Philip Hjorth and Yuta Kikuchi and Carl Emil Overbeck helped out right at the beginning, defeating their doubles opponents to secure the doubles point for Cal, who would proceed to lose four singles matches to lose the dual match as a whole.

“I thought we just let up after doubles and gave them an opportunity,” Kwinta said. “We dug ourselves too much of a hole, emotionally; it cost us at the end.”

The match the next day against USC was nearly the opposite for the Bears.

Cal opened up by conceding the doubles point to the Trojans but proceeded to play six very competitive singles matches directly afterward before coming up short to lose 4-2.

“We played a better match than (the last time we faced off),” Kwinta said. “We were very competitive at the end of the match, verus last time, it was kind of the opposite.”

Cal dug itself into a major hole early on, falling behind 0-3 at one point to the Trojans. Derrick Chen defeated No. 73 Lodewijk Westrate to begin the comeback for the Bears, winning 7-6 (6), 6-3. Lucas Magnaudet nearly defeated Paul Barretto to even the score before Hjorth dropped his match on court two. There was a clear momentum switch, according to Kwinta.

Although the Bears took two tough losses back-to-back, they will look to rebound this upcoming Friday and Sunday when they go on the road again to face Arizona State and Arizona in two important conference matches.

“I would say sometimes you’re better from a loss, and I’d say we’re better from the loss,” Kwinta said. “To me, it seems like a win.”

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