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Bringing back hardware: Alsola wins consolation title at ITA All-Americans

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ANTONIO MARTIN | SENIOR STAFF

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OCTOBER 12, 2022

Two young stars from Cal women’s tennis competed this past week at the highly anticipated Intercollegiate Tennis Association, or ITA, All-American Championships in Cary, North Carolina. Sophomores Jessica Alsola and Katja Wiersholm traveled across the country to represent the Bears. The duo played in the doubles draw, with Alsola also playing in singles.

On Oct. 5, Alsola and Wiersholm began their campaign in Cary by participating in the doubles main draw, which consisted of 32 doubles teams. Unfortunately for fans, they were defeated by Anna Brylin and Brooke Killingsworth from Wake Forest, who are ranked No. 3 in the country. Cal’s sophomore duo lost in two sets with a final score of 6-2, 7-5. Alsola also participated in the singles championship, but fell to NC State’s Abigail Rencheli, losing 6-4, 6-4.

However, the tournament was far from over for the Bears. After losing in the first round, the doubles team, as well as Alsola in singles, entered the consolation draw. This proved to be much more successful: Alsola and Wiersholm advanced in the qualifying round of consolation doubles, as they defeated the UNC Tar Heels’ doubles pair 7-6(3), 6-3. Alsola won the match against Texas A&M’s Carson Branstine, ranked No. 9, when the latter retired due to injury.

On Friday, Alsola reigned victorious over USC’s Snow Han in a long quarterfinal match, winning in three sets with a score of 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. Alsola and Wiersholm continued to play well on Friday in doubles, defeating Tennessee’s Rebeka Mertena and Esther Adeshina 6-2, 6-1. This seemingly easy win is a feat, especially when considering that the Volunteers’ doubles team is ranked nationally at No. 10.

Coming into the weekend, Cal finished its stint in consolation doubles with a loss to Auburn’s Carolyn Ansari and Arian Arsenault in straight sets. However, Alsola continued her run in singles, clinching a win over Michigan’s Julia Fliegner with a score of 6-4, 6-3.

In an exciting early morning match on Sunday, Alsola defeated San Diego’s Solymar Colling 6-2, 6-3 — and, with that win, took home the ITA All-American Championships consolation singles title. Although Alsola had a fairly easy time beating Colling in straight sets, both she and Cal head coach Amanda Augustus agreed that emphasizing playing closer to the net helped the sophomore achieve her first All-American title.

“I’ve been working more on coming forward, and being the dictator in points, and that really helped me in my match today, just the intention of moving forward,” Alsola said.

Augustus expanded upon how strategy helped her player win Sunday’s match, specifying that conditioning was key in assisting Alsola to victory.

“The team pushed really hard for the first month fitness-wise, to get a good jump start on things,” Augustus said. “With the particular opponent that she was playing, (Alsola) really had to play up at the net and control the baseline.”

The Bears still have a lot of tennis to play in the upcoming weeks. Starting Oct. 14, they will be competing in the ITA Northwest Regional Championships at Stanford. After a two-week break, Cal will then embark on a trip to Saint Mary’s to compete in the Saint Mary’s Fall Invitational. All of this will be leading to the culmination of the season: the ITA National Fall Championships on Nov. 2.

That being said, the significance of last week’s tournament should not be minimized.

“This was a great opportunity nationally to see where we’re at,” Augustus said. “We’re right on track, where we need to be, and it’s always great to end the week with a title, so I’m glad (Alsola) is bringing some hardware back to Berkeley with her.”

Contact Leila Rosenberg at 

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OCTOBER 12, 2022