Following a terrific spring showing during the 2021-22 season, Cal women’s head tennis coach Amanda Augustus is excited for another “primarily normal year” for her team’s upcoming fall campaign. As the past two seasons were limited in tournaments and playing opportunities due to COVID-19, this season is particularly exciting — it represents a return to normalcy.
The Bears go into this season as the defending Pac-12 conference regular-season champions. As a team of all-returning players, they are hopeful to perform well once again this year.
The fall season gets underway on Sept. 30 for the Cal Fall Invitational at the Hellman Tennis Complex and Channing Tennis Courts. One of six tournaments the Golden Bears are slated to play this fall, 14 teams nationwide will send players to compete in singles and doubles matches this weekend.
Although college tennis is most known for its spring seasons, fall tournaments are crucial in building individual and doubles rankings. These, in turn, ultimately impact the team’s ability to advance in the NCAA national championship.
Augustus also points out that the fall is an important time to understand the playing potential of her athletes ahead of the spring season, when stakes are higher regarding performance. This especially applies to understanding which doubles matchups would work best.
“It’s a bit of art and a little bit of science. Sometimes two players’ game styles are going to match up well, or two personalities are going to match up well,” Augustus said regarding doubles pairings. “That’s why it’s good to have the fall so that we can see how doubles matchups work.”
Cal already has two sets of ranked doubles pairs, including seniors Haley Giavara and Erin Richardson, who are currently ranked No. 42 in preseason polls. They are joined in the rankings by teammates senior Valentina Ivanov and junior Hannah Viller Moeller, who sit just below them at No. 57.
The Bears’ singles line is similarly dominant. Although Cal is suffering from the loss of singles player Julia Rosenqvist, who graduated last year, the lineup is graced with many talented players: Giavara, sophomores Jessica Alsola and Katja Wiersholm are ranked No. 25, 50 and 97, respectively.
Alsola and Wiersholm will be demonstrating that ranked talent this weekend, as both players qualified to compete in the ITA All-American Championship. The young cubs will be headed to Cary, North Carolina, Oct. 3 to compete in the highly touted tournament.
However, according to Augustus, the lineup is not set in stone just yet.
“The fall is great because we play these individual tournaments, so everyone has the opportunity to play against some more opponents, play against teammates, potentially. The lineup kind of makes itself, in singles especially, by the end of the fall,” Augustus said regarding the singles lineup. “If someone is ranked (No.) 10 and someone else is ranked (No.) 20, you have to play in order of strength.”
In addition, while the Cal Fall Invitational this upcoming weekend is the first collegiate tournament of the season, multiple Cal players participated in professional tournaments this summer. Alsola and Viller Moeller participated in tournaments in Denmark, and Ivanov notched a doubles title win in Tunisia.
All in all, with the season approaching, Cal women’s tennis anticipates a competitive, but fruitful, season.
“I want to have fun and not leave the court with any regrets because it is my last time playing at home at Cal,” Giavara said. “I also, honestly, want to win. I want to win as much as I can, since I will never play these tournaments again.”