One of the most unique aspects of college tennis is that athletes play individually, but most of the time are still fighting for their team. This was fully on display over the past few weeks, as the Cal men’s tennis players have been busy traveling to college and professional tournaments alike.
Stepping away from the blue and gold uniforms, two Bears were featured in two of the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) 15K tournaments draws over the past two weeks.
Siddhant Banthia entered the Cancun draw as a wildcard — only to face 2011 Wimbledon quarterfinalist and former world No. 17 Bernard Tomic in the second round. The fifth-year lost out 6-3, 6-3.
In doubles, Banthia teamed up with Columbian 23-year-old Andres Andrade. This time, Bantia took advantage of his singles experience to beat Tomic, who paired up with Alfredo Casso, in the quarterfinal, 6-2, 6-2. Advancing to the next round, the duo shone again and overcame their opponents, but in a seemingly tighter contest, 6-3, 7-5. The pair ended their journey by edging out Jake Bhangdia and Hamish Stewart, though after conceding the first set, 6(3)-7, 6-3, 10-8.
Some of the Bears also battled in Albuquerque, NM. Banthia’s Cal counterpart Yuta Kikuchi, playing for Japan, lost out to his compatriot Rei Sakamoto 6-2, 6-2 in the second round. He did, however, have more success in the doubles draw. Pairing up with Ghanaian Isaac Nortey, the twosome raced through two rounds before losing in the semi-final to Demetris Azoides and Franco Ribero in three sets, 4-6, 6-2, 8-10.
These past weeks have also been big for Cal’s players on the college side. At the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) All-American Championships, five Bears have been getting busy in Tulsa.
In the pre-qualifying singles, sophomores Derrick Chen and Alex Chang fell in the first round against their University of Birmingham and North Carolina State University opponents respectively. Conversely, junior Lucas Magnaudet and sophomore Carl Emil Overbeck reached the second round, but lost out. Magnaudet took it to three sets, with a final score of 3-6, 7-5, 6(1)-7, whereas his Cal counterpart lost in straight sets, 4-6, 4-6. The most successful of the blue and gold proved to be junior Ryder Jackson, winning twice and advancing to the pre-qualifying round of 16.
In the qualifying draw, Jackson won by forfeit after his University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign opponent retired due to injury. Shortly after that, though, he suffered a loss in the round of 64 against Cleeve Harper in three sets.
The culmination of the past month’s tennis occurred last week, as Cal hosted the ITA Northwest Regional Championships from Thursday to Monday. Mikey Wright, John Kim, Chang and Magnaudet featured in the tournament’s singles and doubles — albeit with varying degrees of success.
Although all four made it to the quarterfinals singles draw, only Chang and Magnaudet moved up in the singles draw.
In doubles, however, the duo of Kim and Wright dominated the regional championships and claimed the title in an entertaining contest against their Nevada opponents, with a final score of 4-6, 7-5, 10-7.
Aside from playing on their home turf, Banthia and Overbeck were also participating in the Tiburon Challenger, a professional tournament, as wildcards. Advancing to the tournament’s semifinal, they were eventually bested in straight sets with a final score of 4-6, 3-6.
The next hurdle for the blue and gold is the Kunal Patel San Francisco Open, which kicks off Wednesday, Oct 12. Seven bears are expected to grace the singles draw for the first round.The draw also means that two Cal players will be facing off in the tournament, as Banthia will be taking on graduate student Sean Hill.
With an ample amount of on-court time so far this season, the Bears have shown that they are capable of showing up and showing out. Especially given the success at the regionals this past week, doubles may well be the team’s saving grace. It remains to be seen throughout the rest of the fall, as well as when dual matches begin in the spring, how the team will deal with the challenges thrown at them.