With lots of energetic support from the crowd on McManus Legends Day, Cal men’s tennis successfully ended its losing streak with a 4-3 victory over Washington, just after falling 2-4 to Oregon the day before.
“We played inspired tennis. We came back strong after a tough loss yesterday in front of our favorite crowd on Jim McManus Day, with all the people that support our program,” said Cal head coach Kris Kwinta. “It was great that the guys stepped up and rose to the occasion.”
Heading into its dual match with Oregon this weekend, Cal was in the middle of its longest losing streak of the season so far. The squad had won seven in a row and reached the No. 27 rank in the country, before eventually losing four in a row, all to other Pac-12 opponents.
The Ducks were also in a similar spot heading into Friday’s dual match. The roster had lost two in a row and was also on a five-game losing streak against other Pac-12 opponents. The battle between the two was much-needed for both sides.
Cal fell early in a tough manner, losing the doubles point in a close tiebreaker that gave Oregon the best-of-three doubles sets.
The following singles matches were equally as competitive. Cal won two of five singles matches, and was leading in the sixth before the dual match was clinched, with victories from Philip Hjorth over Quinn Vandecasteele and Derrick Chen over Luke Vandecasteele on courts two and five, respectively. Unfortunately, the effort was not enough, and extended the losing streak to five games for the blue and gold.
The next day, it appeared to be much of the same, with the Bears falling behind to the Huskies very early on. Washington was coming off impressive victories over UCLA and Oregon and brought with it the No. 6 player in the country, Clement Chidekh. The tides, however, turned in favor of the Bears.
“We definitely played aggressive tennis. We were a bit louder today than we were yesterday, we played the right way, we went for our shots and took our chances, and, at the end of the day, it paid off,” Kwinta said.
The Bears started off with bad momentum early on again, conceding the doubles point to the Huskies. Yuta Kikuchi fell on court one to Chidekh, Hjorth fell to Jack Davis on court two, and Sean Hill emerged victorious against Ewen Lumsden on court three to bring the score to 1-3.
That is when the momentum started to clearly shift for Cal. Carl Emil Overbeck bested Han-Chih Lin 6-3, 7-6(4), in a comeback victory, Lucas Magnaudet came out on top against Nedim Suko 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, and, to clinch the dual-match victory, Chen defeated Cesar Bouchelaghem 6-2, 5-7, 6-1.
“It was a tough doubles point again. You would think it’s looking like another tough day,” Kwinta said. “We stepped up together as a group really well today, so I’m proud of the guys for being able to recover after a tough loss yesterday and to come back with a victory, a tough victory.”
With the Oregon and Washington dual matches behind it, Cal has one last game left on the regular season calendar. It will be facing Stanford at home in a critical match.
“That’s the most important match of the season for us, in front of our home crowd, we are just excited to get ready for that opportunity to take down the trees,” Kwinta said.