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Cal goes 1-1 during 1st weekend of conference play

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MARCH 07, 2023

Ranked No. 55, the Bears played in their first Pac-12 matches this weekend. Traveling to Utah’s George S. Eccles Tennis Center on Friday and Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Tennis Center on Sunday, Cal took on two tough opponents.

Although they were unable to win against the Utes, losing 3-4, the Bears defeated the Buffs 4-3, improving Cal’s overall season record to 4-5.

On March 3, Cal took on Utah, a team it beat twice last season. Despite last year’s victories and a valiant effort during the match, however, the team ultimately fell short.

In doubles, seniors Haley Giavara and Erin Richardson were defeated 7-5 in a contentious match. Soon after, sophomore Makenna Thiel and junior Hannah Viller Moeller lost to Kaila Barksdale and Marcela Lopez 6-4. This gave the Utes the lone doubles point ahead of singles and caused No. 16 team Jessica Alsola and Katja Wiersholm to abandon their match on court one.

Cal found more success in singles match play; although the team ultimately lost, several Bears put on stellar performances. Alsola, ranked No. 36 in singles, defeated Barksdale 6-1, 6-3. Giavara, who was injured last fall but was ranked No. 36 at the end of the 2021-22 season, won in an exciting three-set battle against Katya Townsend 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-1. No. 122 Wiersholm also defeated her Utah opponent in a three-set match, coming back from a set down to finish out 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.

“My process was ‘I either win this match or I let the team down,’ ” Wiersholm said regarding how she found energy during her Friday singles performance. “I was just trying to play every point for my team.”

Despite these wins, the Bears came up short, with three setters galore across the day. In another close three-set match, Thiel was defeated by Samantha Horwood, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. As Viller Moeller and freshman Berta Passola Folch had already lost their matches, Utah was able to clinch the win.

Seemingly unphased by the loss in Salt Lake City, Cal traveled to Boulder on Sunday to take on Colorado, who were 7-4 going into the match. Clinching the doubles point to begin the day, Alsola and Wiersholm defeated Antonia Balzert and Aya El Sayed 6-4, while Passola Folch and Viller Moeller won against their Colorado opponents with an easy 6-0.

Cal head coach Amanda Augustus is particularly proud of Passola Folch’s performance in doubles this Sunday.

“We had (Passola Folch), our only freshman, back in the lineup at doubles today, and having her back at 100% was a really good thing,” Augustus said. “She was able to win her doubles set 6-0 today, so that tells you she was able to perform really well.”

In singles, Alsola and Wiersholm continued with solid performances, winning 6-1, 6-3 and 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, respectively. Passola Folch also defeated Betina Tokac 6-4, 6-0 to clinch Cal’s overall win of the weekend — her first clinch as a freshman.

As Cal plays outdoors year-round at home in Berkeley, traveling to Utah and Colorado brought about two new challenges: indoor matches, as well as higher altitudes than the Bears are used to.

Wiersholm credits a strong mentality that allowed her to persevere through these obstacles.

“I was really proud of my competitive spirit this weekend. Honestly, playing at altitudes, playing indoors as a player that goes to school in California was challenging, but staying positive was big for me in trying to embrace the tough conditions and the altitude,” Wiersholm said.

Cal will return to its home Hellman Tennis Complex for its next contest to play Hawaii — a nononference opponent — on March 12. Going forward in the season, Augustus feels positive about her team’s current trajectory.

“We just got started with conference play this weekend on the road, and we won the doubles point, which is something we’ve been working on. So I think we’re turning the corner here, and I’m seeing the players implement what they need to,” Augustus said.

Contact Leila Rosenberg at 


MARCH 07, 2023