After an exciting fall season and a packed spring, Cal women’s tennis embarked Friday on the beginning of its final journey. The Bears played the opening round of the NCAA championship on their home turf against Northern Arizona.
Blanking the Lumberjacks with a 4-0 win, the Bears dealt seemingly just as easy with their second round opponents Texas Tech on Saturday, earning a trip to North Carolina for the round of 16.
On day one, doubles against NAU came effortlessly to the team. Courts one and two got the job done, with both matches posting a score of 6-1 and freshman phenom team Jessica Alsola and Katja Wiersholm clinching on court two.
“We did a good job taking care of our service games,” said Cal head coach Amanda Augustus. “We were talking about that this week, in doubles, making sure we’re setting up the plays because you have a lot more control on your service game.”
This was some of the best doubles play the team has seen all season.
The singles matches went by just as quickly. Notably, Danish sophomore Hannah Viller Moeller was the first to finish — and win — her singles match against NAU’s Laura Duhl. Augustus remarked that this was an exceptional finish for Moeller, as she tends to be one of the last to finish due to her game style.
Indeed, this was one of the sophomore’s better matches. Staying focused and aggressive, she dealt with her opponent quickly in two sets, finishing out 6-1 and 6-0.
While on the first day the doubles were a breeze, it was much closer in the second round. Facing Texas Tech — who beat Loyola Marymount in the first round — the Bears had two doubles tiebreakers.
After being up on court three, the pairing of Julia Rosenqvist and Erin Richardson found itself in a tiebreaker. Down 1-6, the two were able to overcome four match points and get themselves to 5-6 — a much better spot for the duo. However, the opponents seized the opportunity.
“This was the most solid doubles team we’ve played so far,” Rosenqvist said. “They didn’t give us many unforced (errors), they really played to their strengths and we did too, it was literally key points.”
Court one juniors Haley Giavara and Valentina Ivanov were left to clinch the doubles point after their own tense tiebreaker. Winning the set 7-6, the juniors took the doubles point with them.
The atmosphere of the second round was noticeably different, too. With loud players and supporters on both sides, the Hellman Tennis Complex stands were ripe with tension and anticipation. As the singles matches raged on, they grew louder and louder.
Cal freshman Alsola especially stood out, seeming to really fit into not only the team, but also the unique atmosphere of college tennis. She had a quick win against Texas Tech’s Olivia Peet at 6-2 and 6-0 with a confident, aggressive style and excellent play at the net.
Cal senior Rosenqvist clinched her third home match in a row — notably in her last-ever match on the home turf. She overcame her opponent 6-2 and 6-4 as well as earned Cal a spot in the round of 16.
“I just try not to take it for granted and leave it all out there. I also allowed myself to smile today, it’s so easy sometimes to be so focused and so serious,” Rosenqvist said.
The Bears are set to play NC State in the third round this weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina. As they advance further in the bracket, the matches will undoubtedly get tougher and tougher.
With plenty of room to get overwhelmed, the team is taking things one match at a time.