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Go-time: Cal prepares for ITA Kickoff Weekend ahead of Indoor Nationals

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Head sports editor

JANUARY 26, 2023

The collegiate tennis season is picking up steam — and it’s doing it quick. Fans and players alike were just getting into the swing of dual matches, but all of a sudden, the Indoor National Championship is right around the corner.

The first stage kicks off — quite literally — with the ITA Kickoff Weekend. There are 15 such mini-tournaments around the country, with top teams getting to host. Cal is one of these teams, earning a spot to host given its No. 11 ranking.

Hosting three teams and playing two of them, this is a must-win situation. The No. 11 Bears play Princeton on Friday; if they win, they will face the winning team of the Georgia Tech-USD match come Saturday. Two wins will guarantee the team a spot at the National Indoor Championships in Seattle, held Feb. 10-13.

“We’re happy to host the first two matches here,” said head coach Amanda Augustus. “The next part of Indoors is in Seattle, so our goal is to punch our ticket and to get there, but one match at a time.”

The Bears have had a successful start to their season, earning some quality wins in Hawaii and winning their first dual match against Santa Barbara last week, with a confident 6-1 score.

It seems as though their Friday opposition, though, has also started the season off with a bang. With two 7-0 shutouts and a 6-1 win in dual matches, Princeton might well be a team Cal should be worried about. Things are also made that much more difficult as this is a new opponent for the blue and gold.

The last (and only) time Cal women’s tennis played Princeton was 6,523 days ago — on March 18, 2005. To put that into perspective, the reigning Australian Open champions at the time were Marat Safin and Serena Williams.

When playing unknown teams, it might take a while for the players to settle into the game as they take time to figure out how to approach their opponents. This means that fans might see some lost first sets. What will be really important to pay attention to is how the Bears attack off their serves and how they shift tactics, especially going into second sets.

The Bears — and likely Haley Giavara, Cal’s No. 1 player — will have to watch out for Daria Frayman. The senior stands at No. 4 in the nation, and last year became the first Ivy League women’s tennis player to reach No. 1 in singles. In the 11 matches that Frayman played to completion last year, she lost just four.

But even then, that is just one player and one match. There will be six singles matches, and each one is as important as the next.

This time last year, Cal also had the privilege of hosting the Kickoff Weekend, beating BYU and Vanderbilt to reach Indoor Nationals.

“(I’m) very excited, we’ve got good teams coming,” said No. 16 Jessica Alsola, who was a breakout player in her freshman year and is now Cal’s resident court two player. “It’ll be a really fun experience,  and playing at home again is spectacular.”

Using the momentum from last week’s win and shaking off early-season rust, Cal should be in a fairly good place to succeed this weekend. Emphasizing that the team will take things one match at a time, and hoping to just “hit a lot of balls” in the coming days, Augustus is working on fine-tuning her players’ game.

Though Cal is definitely more of an outdoor team — often using conditions such as the wind to its advantage — it has the potential to wow the country at nationals. For now, though, the Bears have to look towards their home courts and prepare for their first opponent: 3-0 Princeton.

Contact Maria Kholodova at  or on Twitter


JANUARY 26, 2023