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'Step forward’: Bears beat UCLA, lose out to USC as conference play continues

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Head sports editor

MARCH 29, 2023

It’s been tough outing after tough outing for Cal women’s tennis this spring, with many narrow losses sinking the Bears to below a .500 record. Despite splitting another pair of Pac-12 weekend matches, the Bears looked confident in Los Angeles this weekend. Beating UCLA 5-2 and narrowly losing out to USC 4-3, the Bears seem to be righting the ship.

“We had a really good win at UCLA and a really, really close match to USC, so I think that was a really positive step forward for the team,” said Cal head coach Amanda Augustus.

Cal kicked off the weekend with a decisive doubles victory, with both winning teams giving up just two games each to their opponents over the lone doubles set.

On court one, the No. 15 sophomore duo of Jessica Alsola and Katja Wiersholm beat out the nation’s No. 6 doubles team in Kimmi Hance and Elise Wagle. But court two was also a sight to behold — Haley Giavara was back with her doubles partner of Valentina Ivanov, who took the court for the first time this spring after an injury.

“I was really, really happy with our doubles,” Augustus said. “Getting that doubles point was crucial. I think we’re in the mix — we put ourselves back in the mix with the win at UCLA.”

The team was meant to play UCLA last year, but the match was canceled due to illness on the Bruins’ team. Earlier this season, the nonconference match against UCLA also got canceled due to weather. Augustus said this made the team “extra motivated” — she said the Bears came out with a purpose and played smart.

In singles, too, the clinch seemed to come easy: Three quick and successive Cal wins gave the Bears a 4-0 score and secured the win. Hannah Viller Moeller, Wiersholm and Alsola were the ones to seal the deal for Cal.

The rest of the matches were played to completion, though, with the Bears reeling in another win as well as two losses. One loss came from Giavara; the senior lost out to No. 23 Fangran Tian, who is still yet to lose a match this spring. The other loss was Ivanov, who retired before the match was over, though Augustus said that this was nothing serious and that Ivanov should be back in the lineup for the team’s next matches.

Just like at UCLA, the Bears once again saw success in their doubles against USC. Though Alsola and Wiersholm lost 6-0 on court one against the No. 22 team of Maddy Sieg and Eryn Cayetano, the rest of Cal’s teams both posted 6-2 wins.

Following the weekend’s doubles success, Augustus said that the focus will now be on these teams getting better for the rest of the season, rather than trying to adjust partnerships.

The singles against the Trojans started out with two straight set wins for Cal — the Bears’ only freshman, Berta Passola Folch, kicked off the singles with a 6-1, 6-3 win, which was followed by Alsola’s 6-4, 6-1 victory on court two.

Then, however, things started to fall apart for the Bears. A 7-5, 0-6, 6-3 loss from Giavara against Sieg, who is ranked No. 5 in the nation, followed by two more three-set losses from Wiersholm and Ivanov, tied the score at 3-3. The final fall came from Viller Moeller, who also lost a three-set match to Naomi Cheong, giving USC the 4-3 win.

This weekend’s results put Cal squarely in the middle of the Pac-12 standings. Side by side with USC at 2-2 apiece, Cal has little to brag about with its 5-6 spring record, compared to the Trojans’ 10-6.

The Bears haven’t had much of a chance to compete this spring, given the unabating Bay Area rain. These next few matches will be crucial for last year’s regular season Pac-12 champions to improve their record and show that they really are “in the mix.” Set for three days of match play in a row this week — against Arizona, Arizona State and LMU, the Bears will certainly be aiming for some wins.

Contact Maria Kholodova at  or on Twitter


MARCH 29, 2023