There is perhaps nothing that comes close to eliciting such a wide range of emotions as riding a rollercoaster. Standing in line, you might be excited, but a little nervous. Then you get in, get strapped up and the nerves hit. When the carriage starts climbing the anticipation builds, but the excitement of speeding down, with your hands up in the air, feeling nothing but joy is simply unparalleled.
Then it’s over. You feel empty, yet full of emotion from what you’ve just experienced.
Cal women’s tennis had a roller coaster ride of a fall season with two of its key players ending their season run last week at ITA National Fall Championships.
The duo of junior Erin Richardson and freshman Jessica Alsola ended their run earlier than hoped Friday, after losing out to Pepperdine’s Victoria Flores and Lisa Zaar, 4-6, 2-6.
The team was selected by the ITA for the doubles draw after an impressive run at ITA Regional Championships, where the duo –– playing together for the first time –– made the semifinals.
“It was a lot of close games, we had a lot of opportunities,” Richardson said. “I think it just came down to us committing more to how we play and especially using our volleys.”
Head coach Amanda Augustus agreed with this sentiment, adding that the Bears could have been more aggressive at certain points in the match, specifically regarding missed volleys she thought the players would be able to make.
The match was indeed close, with Pepperdine’s Flores and Zaar saving 5 of the 8 break points they faced.
Though the opportunity was lost here, the Bears pulled out a momentous win in the first round of the tournament. Playing Carly Briggs and Marlee Zein of Florida on Thursday, Cal seemingly had no way out after the first set — the Bears were down 0-6.
The team knew it wasn’t playing to the best of its abilities, and that’s something that needed to change.
After the first match, the Bears had a major change in pace: Cal won six of the next seven games, even converting a breakpoint on set point and went on to take the second set 6-4. The 10-point tiebreaker was also in its favor, with Cal coming out on top with a 0-6, 6-4, 10-7 win overall.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a match like that,” Richardson said. “But once we got on the board, we played a really tidy game after that and suddenly it was 3-2.”
Richardson claimed their mindsets and energies completely changed, aided by Augustus who helped ensure the duo were supporting each other and keeping their energy up.
Other players of Cal women’s tennis spent the weekend in Arizona playing at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational. Junior Valentina Ivanov had a big win against San Diego’s 30th-ranked Solymar Colling, but sophomore Hannah Viller Moeller lost to 117th-ranked Elizabeth Goldsmith in three.
The season finally ended Sunday, when the Bears won both their final matches. Moeller and freshman Makenna Thiel both posted wins, with the former cruising through 6-2, 6-3 and the latter coming back from a second set loss 7-6, 6-7, 6-2.
The fall season overall had plenty of ups and downs, with three blue and gold wins at the Cal Fall Invitational in September, but a few shorter runs at the ITA Regional Championships and no players making it past the second round in ITA All-American Championships qualifiers.
Augustus is still not sure what the doubles teams will look like come spring, but knows that the team will spend the next few months working on their doubles game to be ready for a successful spring season.
After a rollercoaster season full of emotion, not least the exciting nationals opener for Alsola and Richardson, the Bears will be hard at work preparing for a spring full of wins.
Maria Kholodova covers women’s tennis. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.