One of Cal women’s tennis’s defining qualities this season has been the team’s well-roundedness. Although the Bears’ No. 41 Haley Giavara is currently their only nationally ranked individual in singles or doubles, their depth across their lineup has offset this apparent lack of starpower and carried them to their current national team ranking of 23 in the Oracle ITA Rankings. Cal demonstrated its strength in numbers this weekend at Hellman Tennis Complex as it edged then-No. 49 Washington 4-3 on Friday and then-No. 47 Washington State by the same scoreline the following day.
The Bears started the pair of conference dual matches off on the right note, sweeping all three doubles matches against Washington to sprint to a 1-0 lead. However, the Huskies proved to be a much more challenging wall to scale in singles.
Although the Bears earned a 3-1 lead after claiming two of the first three singles matches — including a win from freshman Cami Brown in her collegiate doubles debut — they soon found themselves in a neck-and-neck contest. Washington’s Sedona Gallagher and No. 30 Vanessa Wong posted wins over Cal’s Hannah Viller Moeller and No. 83 Giavara, respectively, to even the match at 3 points apiece. The Huskies’ late surge proved to be insufficient, though, as Julia Rosenqvist’s 7-5, 6-3 win on the second court clinched the team victory for the Bears.
The win came despite Cal’s Valentina Ivanov and Jada Bui — the typical number 3 and 4 singles players, respectively — being left out of the lineup, thus exemplifying the depth of the Bears’ roster and its ability to defeat nationally-ranked foes.
Cal began the next day’s contest against Washington State with another sweep of the doubles matches. While doubles has been one of the Bears’ strong points this season, their showing in this arena against their Washington-based opponents was particularly impressive.
“I think we’re doing a better job of starting the (doubles) matches more aggressively, whether it’s poaching more or being more aggressive with our returns (of serve),” said Amanda Augustus, Cal women’s tennis head coach. “We’re able to get in control of the doubles matches quicker.”
The Bears pounced on the Cougars in singles as well, winning three of the first four matches completed to clinch the team victory. Despite ultimately dropping matches on the top two courts, Cal again demonstrated its strength all the way down the lineup with strong performances from Ivanov, Miller and Anna Bright on the third, fourth and fifth courts, respectively. With the win, the Bears improved to 12-3 on the season and remain unbeaten at home.
Cal heads to Eugene next, where it will face No. 46 Oregon on Friday. The Ducks are 11-4 overall this season and trail the Bears by one match in the Pac-12 standings. Despite coming off of a 4-1 defeat to No. 10 UCLA on Sunday, Oregon notched a notable 5-2 win against then-No. 38 USC two days earlier and will surely test Augustus’s team.
Cal will return to Hellman on Sunday to face No. 7 Pepperdine. The match is an opportunity for the Bears to avenge their recent 6-1 loss in Malibu to the then-No.4 Waves, who have since posted dominant victories over Santa Clara and San Francisco.
“Every single match was close (last time),” Ivanov said. “We’re actually really excited to play that match because we know that we’re at that level and any of the singles or doubles matches can go our way.”
Milad Shafaie covers women’s tennis. Contact him at email@example.com.