Mental toughness is a recurring theme among champions. In tennis, it will make or break a match. Tennis is a completely mental game and Cal displayed its perseverance this weekend, winning matches that went to three sets with multiple players who fought back from being down a set.
The No. 1 Bears came away with a 6-1 win over No. 11 USC on Friday at Marks Stadium in the first match of the weekend which improved Cal’s record to 7-0 and moved the Trojans’ record to 3-3. The singles players performed well with five of the six matches going to the Bears. No. 13 junior Maegan Manasse fell to No. 38 Giuliana Olmos in a tough match, No. 102 f reshman Olivia Hauger clinched the match for Cal in straight sets with a 6-4, 6-3 win over No. 90 Rianna Valdes.
The Bears also clinched the doubles point with the duo of senior Klara Fabikova and Hauger defeating Zoë Katz and Jessica Failla 7-6 in the tiebreaker. The pair of Lynn Chi and Stephane Lin also won 7-5 in a close set against Madison Westby and Valdes.
The goal of Cal’s matches has been to focus heavily on its doubles, which is something that the team had worked on coming into the match and will continue to work on for the rest of the season.
“We played really good doubles, so that was really helpful,” said Cal women’s tennis head coach Amanda Augustus. “We were able to use that momentum and I think we just competed really hard.”
The next meeting between the Trojans and the Bears will be in about three weeks in Berkeley, where Cal will have home court advantage.
On Saturday, the Bears took on their rivals, the No. 22 Bruins, again taking the win, 5-2, pushing Cal’s record to 8-0 and moving the Bruin’s to 5-3. In this match, the doubles pairs struggled more as No. 2 Manasse and Denise Starr fell to the unranked team of Catherine Harrison and Kyle McPhillips and Chi and Lin lost to Alaina Miller and Kristin Wiley, 6-2. Cal’s performance in doubles was sub-par so UCLA clinched the doubles point. The duo of Fabikova and Hauger performed well and bageled the pair of Terri Fleming and Kelly Shaffer.
In singles, the Bears played much better with Manasse defeating No. 18 Harrison in three sets, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2. No. 5 Fabikova’s match against McPhillips also went to three sets, ending with Fabikova triumphing, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Both players came back from a first set deficit and showed the toughness and patience it takes to come back from being down.
“I would say that our doubles wasn’t quite as we wanted it to be, making us push harder in the singles and UCLA also fought quite hard,” Augustus said. I think we had some really good singles with experience and mental toughness that helped us.”
Fabikova seems to be hitting her stride, coming back undefeated after this weekend.
“We did a really good job staying focused,” Fabikova said on the matches versus both USC and UCLA. “For me, I want to work on my serve because I know it hasn’t been the weapon I want it to be. I also want to work on my returns in doubles. I would say my forehand is my strongest point and by now I have a lot of variety in my game. And mentally I am pretty strong.”