Sometimes there’s more left in the movie after the credits begin to roll. Dedicated fans stay behind to see a hint at the next movie, or a scene that didn’t make the cut.
Cal women’s tennis’ movie might be over, but the postseason is just ramping up, and the end credits can be just as exciting. This Friday, the Bears will open the first round of the NCAA tournament right here at home: the Hellman Tennis Complex.
The team once again earned the honor of hosting after a successful season and being seeded 11th. Going into the tournament with a 16-7 record, and as regular season Pac-12 champions, Cal has its sights set high. The Bears’ opening match will be against Northern Arizona, a team they have yet to face.
“In this particular tournament it happens quite a lot,” said Cal head coach Amanda Augustus. “We’re just going to come out and start with the gamestyles we like to play and then make adjustments as we go.”
Cal will also be hosting Loyola Marymount and Texas Tech for its own first-round match, as well as the two first-round winners’ second-round match May 7. The team tournament will finish out at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where the singles and doubles tournaments will take place shortly after.
One of the Bears’ soon-to-be seniors and veteran court one player, Haley Giavara, is a first alternate for the singles tournament. With fellow classmate Valentina Ivanov, the two are also the fifth alternates for the doubles championship, while freshman Jessica Alsola sits as fifth alternate for singles.
At their last tournament, Cal had its eye set on a repeat of last year’s Pac-12 championship, when the team beat out its opponents to take the crown. This year, however, the team lost against the only team that beat it in the regular Pac-12 season: Arizona State. At 4-3, it was close –– and could’ve been anyone’s match.
With a couple weeks off from matches, the coaching team has been focusing on polishing aspects of gameplay that the Bears are unable to spend more time on during the busy season.
“We worked a little bit on some transition shots and doubles stuff like our volleys, just resharpening them again because we were playing so much we didn’t have much time to work on that lately,” Augustus said.
The youngest Bears –– the three freshmen cubs on the team –– are excited and prepared, Augustus said. Cal’s newest Bear Katja Wiersholm posted a 21-3 singles record over the season and a 17-match winning streak from the first match she played for the Bears in the spring. Her fellow freshman Alsola also has had a successful year for Cal with a 31-9 singles record.
Individual players, too, have their own goals for the championship. Cal’s only senior Julia Rosenqvist remarked on the role of mental preparation ahead of her last stint with the Bears.
“It doesn’t really have to come down to the tennis we play, but it’s also about the mental tennis you face if you come down to clinching or are put in a pressuring situation,” said Rosenqvist. “For me, nothing has been specific more than strategic preparations.”
Starting off the tournament at home will not only bring Cal confidence, but also give it more time as the semester winds down and finals are fast approaching. Hoping to secure a supportive home crowd, the team awaits the culmination of its season eagerly, as some Bears see their first national tournament while others prepare for the beginning of the end.