Although it didn’t qualify for the ITA national indoor tournament, Cal women’s tennis, ranked No. 20 in the nation, will be playing in two neutral-site matches in Miami this weekend. Facing off against Miami on Saturday and NC State on Sunday, ranked No. 16 and No. 10 respectively, the Bears continue to encounter high-level competition as they make their way through their 2023 spring schedule.
Currently 2-1, Cal has played tremendously well so far. Notably, several Bears have touted high rankings in the ITA polls. Sophomore Jessica Alsola has consistently excelled in singles, ranking No. 16 with a 11-3 record. Her performance this spring follows a terrific fall, in which she cinched the consolation singles title at the ITA All-American Championships. Junior Hannah Viller Moeller is also ranked, at 93rd with a 11-4 record.
Cal also has two ranked doubles pairs, both including Alsola; with sophomore Katja Wiersholm, they are ranked 15th with a record of 12-5, and with senior Valentina Ivanov, they are ranked 51st with a record of 3-1. Alsola and Wiersholm were outstanding in the fall as well, winning the ITA Northwest Regional Championships and competing in the consolation doubles final at the ITA National Fall Championships.
However, the two programs Cal will be facing off this weekend are similarly excellent this season. The Miami Hurricanes are currently 3-1, and have had their fair share of excellent players as well, including Alexa Noel who is ranked one position higher than Alsola in singles at no. 14. The NC State Wolfpack is impressive in its own right, with singles player Alana Smith, ranked no. 13, and a doubles pair of Amelia Rajecki and Nell Miller ranked no. 8.
In addition, phenom Diana Shnaider was granted eligibility to compete in NCAA match play for NC State on Feb. 4. Ranked 94th in WTA singles, Russian-born Shnaider is most well-known for qualifying into the Australian Open main draw and nearly beating veteran Maria Sakkari in the second round at only 18 years old. While it is unclear whether her participation in this weekend’s matches is guaranteed, her potential presence in Miami is cause for fanfare.
However, Cal head coach Amanda Augustus isn’t intimidated by the tough match play ahead of her team this weekend.
“We’re competitive with every team in the nation.” Augustus says.“I just want to see us play our game and compete hard, and if we do that the results will take care of themselves.”
In addition, due to the fact both of Cal’s matches were rained out last weekend, the Bears haven’t played since they were bested by USD at ITA Kickoff Weekend on Jan. 28. As a result, this weekend serves as a chance to bounce back from this obstacle and continue their season in stride.
Leading into the weekend, coach Augustus has specified that they have particularly focused on improving their doubles game.
“With the rain and not getting as much court time, it was important for us to work on doubles a bit more, especially because that’s always the hardest thing to get in over the holidays and stuff because not everyone is in the same place,” said Augustus.
However, most importantly, coach Augustus stressed the value of traveling to different courts and facing different teams.
“The fun part of this job is to watch them grow through their four years and add to their game while having great match experiences along the way,” Augustus said. “It’s fun playing in Hellman, but it’s also fun to play on the road sometimes, because we play on different courts with different opponents, which helps them become better players and competitors.”