As Cal men’s tennis said “aloha” to the new year, the team performed impressively in the Hawaii Invitational that took place last weekend. The Bears were dominant in Honolulu against the University of Hawaii and BYU after going 20-6, including 16-1 in singles competition and 3-5 in doubles over three days.
“After not being able to compete (together) for almost two years, these guys came out with extra spark and extra intensity and desire to compete as Bears,” said head coach Kris Kwinta. “Right from the start, we were the loudest team, the most cohesive team, and it was showing through the results.”
Alex Chang was forced to retire on the first day of the invitational due to an abdominal strain. According to Kwinta, Chang is being held for imaging and could be limited to doubles in the upcoming weekend in Tulsa or New Orleans.
Freshman Derrick Chen made his debut for the Bears in Hawaii and dominated in singles competition, as he swept every set in three singles matches. However, Chen was held winless in three doubles matches over the weekend.
“He’s super excited about the possibility to be competing for something more than himself,” Kwinta said of Chen’s performance and attitude. “(He) met all of his expectations in terms of the goals for the trip and really feels like he has developed his game and started moving forward a little bit more and working on doubles skills.”
The Bears will head east to face the University of Tulsa on Saturday in Oklahoma and Tulane University in New Orleans on Monday. The Golden Hurricanes of Tulsa have the No. 60 doubles team in junior Connor Di Marco and senior Kody Pearson, while the Green Wave of Tulane does not have anyone ranked by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, or ITA.
The Bears will get an extra boost from the city of Berkeley’s hometown kid Sean Hill, a graduate transfer from BYU who will make his Cal debut over the weekend.
“That adds a little spark to the squad as well,” Kwinta said. “He’s a great player, and he’s beaten top players in college. So that’s also very promising for our squad to be adding a little bit more depth.”
There is excitement and enthusiasm in the air among the Bears. The team will look to carry it through the weekend and into the upcoming Pac-12 season.
A month-long hiatus may lead you to not be on top of your game. But not for the Bears.
After time away from the court, Cal women’s tennis started its spring semester off with roaring success, winning 33 out of 35 total matches at the Weinman Foundation Invitational in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The team dropped just two singles matches over the course of three days. Junior Haley Giavara was defeated by Washington State’s Michaela Bayerlova 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 on the first day of play, and sophomore Cami Brown lost to Hawaii’s Gitte Heynemans in two sets, 6-3, 6-4.
Cal’s new freshman Katja Wiersholm –– the nation’s fifth-best recruit –– shone in her first time playing for the blue and gold. She won all of her six matches in Hawaii, posting three singles and three doubles wins over the three days.
“She was excited and well-prepared coming in, and it’s a pretty good way to start,” said head coach Amanda Augustus. “I’m looking forward to her getting her first few matches in at Hellman (Tennis Complex) and Channing (Tennis Courts) this weekend.”
In doubles, the Bears went undefeated last week. Augustus said she thought this went better than expected, especially considering that the team had not played any doubles matches since November.
“For them, the excitement of getting out and competing again was great,” she said. “For us as coaches, it was good to see where they’re at and what we need to work on in the next few weeks as we get closer to the team dual matches.”
Later this week, Cal will play on the blue and gold home turf for the first time this year at the Cal Winter Invite. Hosting Cal Poly, Saint Mary’s and Santa Clara, the Bears are looking to continue their winning streak.
“We’re feeling really good, we’re happy to be hosting again,” Giavara, who held a No. 27 singles ranking in the final Oracle ITA polls of last year’s spring season, said. “We’re all just really happy to be playing on our courts again.”
In 2020, the last time the Cal Winter Invite was held, the Bears stood victorious, with singles champion Julia Rosenqvist and doubles champions Giavara and Anna Bright remaining unbeaten throughout the tournament.
Grateful that the team is lucky to be competing again, Giavara remarked how nice it was to be able to play in front of a crowd. She encourages fans to come and support the Bears for their upcoming matches.