The Bears fell in both of their back-to-back games in Southern California this past weekend, first to the Pepperdine Waves and then to the UCSB Gauchos. Cal is now 9-6 overall after a three-game losing streak.
Cal lost the doubles point in both games, which was unusual for a team which has become accustomed to winning in doubles this season. These doubles points could have been the deciding factor against the Waves and the Gauchos, as the Bears lost both 4-3.
“After a couple tough losses at home, I think the confidence was down,” said Cal head coach Kris Kwinta. “We were hesitant on some simple plays and big moments, which cost us dearly. A one or two percent change in confidence can change the whole game.”
Against Pepperdine, Cal’s Ryder Jackson and Lucas Magnaudet defeated Maxi Homberg and Eero Vasa 7-5 on court two. Pepperdine’s Daniel De Jonge and Tim Zeitvogel then defeated Siddhant Banthia and Carl Emil Overbeck 6-3, leaving court three to be the deciding match. Pepperdine’s Linus Carlsson Halldin and Pietro Fellin then clinched the doubles point for the Waves by defeating Philip Hjorth and Yuta Kikuchi 7-6(1).
After Cal lost the first singles point against Pepperdine, with No. 120 Jackson falling to No. 62 De Jonge on court two, the Bears began to fight their way back — they earned three singles points with wins No. 46 Kikuchi, Magnaudet and Overbeck. At that point, Cal was in the lead with 3-2, with two singles matches remaining.
But the comeback momentum was not enough against the Waves, who proceeded to win the remaining two matches. Pepperdine’s Homberg defeated Hjorth — with both sets going into a tiebreak — while Vasa clinched the Waves’ victory by defeating Cal’s Derrick Chen in three sets.
“It’s interesting that the guys respond really well in singles. We have some guys stepping up and putting us on the board and giving us a chance,” Kwinta said. “The guys are hesitant, playing passively. As we know, as coaches and as players, you have to go and take what you want and be assertive. The win will not be given to you.”
Following their loss to the Waves in Malibu, the Bears headed north to play the No. 32 Gauchos.
The Bears shifted their doubles lineup as Hjorth did not play in doubles — Kikuchi was moved to play on court one with Banthia, while Overbeck joined Chen on court three.
Despite the personnel swap, the Bears still lost the doubles point to UCSB. Kikuchi and Banthia fell to No. 57 pair Phillip Jordan and Kai Brady 6-4, while No. 64 duo Magnaudet and Jackson lost out to Pablo Masjuan and Luka Mrsic, who clinched the doubles point for the Gauchos on court two.
“We’ve been getting a little complacent (now) that we’re winning every doubles point at the beginning of the season,” Kwinta said. “It’s costing us now. We have to do doubles drills, placement drills and work on communication.”
In singles, Kikuchi defeated Jordan in straight sets, putting Cal on the board and tying the score 1-1. The rest of the matches were close — all five of the remaining singles matches went to three sets.
The Bears won three more points, courtesy of Overbeck, Jackson and Chen but dropped a point after Banthia’s three-set loss . Following Overbeck’s win over UCSB’s Gianluca Brunkow, the score was tied 3-3, meaning the match would be decided on court six. UCSB’s Brady clinched the victory for the Gauchos in his matchup against Magnaudet, leaving the Bears trailing 3-4 once more.
The Bears will continue on the road, heading to the Beehive State for their matchup against No. 32 Utah on April 2 for their third conference matchup this season.
“We have great players on the team that are ready to step up, and (have) another opportunity this weekend to show what they’re made out of and play more courageous tennis,” Kwinta said.