On the heels of a dominant victory over Bay Area rivals St. Mary’s to open its season, the No.19-ranked Cal women’s tennis team showed its resilience at the ITA Kickoff Opener at UCLA.
The Bears split their results against familiar conference foes over the weekend, losing to No. 2 UCLA 4-0, then rebounding with a hard-fought 4-1 victory over Washington State.
“All things considered, after not playing an entire fall season, I think we are off to a very good start,” said head coach Amanda Augustus. “There is tons of tennis to go.”
On Sunday, UCLA’s Elysia Bolton and Jada Hart, the country’s top-ranked duo, set the tone in doubles play with a 6-1 thrashing of Cal’s doubles pair Anna Bright and Julia Rosenqvist, who rank 53. After dropping the doubles point, the Bears found themselves in a hole from which they wouldn’t escape, as they failed to secure a victory in singles play.
The next morning, Cal found itself losing the doubles point once again after WSU’s Michaela Bayerlova and Hikaru Sato edged out Bright and Rosenqvist for a 7-6 (7-5) victory.
However, with their backs against the wall, the Bears reversed course and delivered a clean sweep in singles play to secure the team victory, as No. 18 Haley Giavara defeated Bayerlova 7-6 (12-10), 6-2.
“We had a solid win (Monday),” Augustus said. “It’s a great starting point, and our current No. 19 ranking reflects where we are actually at. We’re just happy to start somewhere. We have a very talented team this year, and we expect big things out of them.”
Cal’s quest for consistency is contingent on whether a regular game schedule is feasible given the protocols put in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fortunately, the sport itself has the benefit of being socially distanced. According to Augustus, this has allowed a majority of the squad to maintain some semblance of normalcy away from collegiate competition through individual tournaments around the world.
“Our schedule is planned, and we will release it as soon as we are allowed to,” Augustus said. “As a Cal alum myself, I think if there is one thing that people who go to Cal know how to do well, is be resilient and make adjustments. I’m really confident that this team will do that as we go through the season.”
The Bears return home to face San Francisco at Hellman Tennis Complex on Friday at noon. If weather permits, both teams will face off without the added benefit of having played each other during the fall season. The Dons held a 4-3 record in 2020 before their season was canceled because of COVID-19.
“We had a lot of fun this weekend,” Augustus said. “There is work to do, but we are off to a very good start.”
Spencer Golanka covers men’s soccer and women’s tennis. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @sgolanka.