The Big Slam, an annual tradition to cap off the regular Pac-12 season.
This year, the matchup took place at the Cardinal’s home, the Taube Tennis Center on Friday. Though Cal had beaten Stanford two consecutive times, this time, the Cardinal took home the win, avenging their previous losses with a dominant performance that resulted in a final 6-1 score.
The rivalry match began with the doubles.
After Sara Choy and Alexandra Yepifanova defeated Haley Giavara and Valentina Ivanov 6-4, the doubles point came down to court three. With the Cardinal’s Connie Ma and Valencia Xu winning the tiebreaker to finish 7-6(3), they took the point despite a solid effort from Cal’s Erin Richardson and Hannah Viller Moeller.
The match on court one between No. 9 Jessica Alsola and Katja Wiersholm and No. 20 Angelica Blake and Alexis Blokhina went unfinished.
Despite Cal losing the doubles point, the competition between the rivals remained stiff; the three first singles sets were pushed to a seven-game winner.
Cal’s Giavara pushed to tie up the match 1-1, beating No. 16 Ma — Stanford’s highest-ranked singles player — 6-4, 6-1.
“(It) was a very, very good win,” head coach Amanda Augustus said. “She beat her last time and I thought she did a very good job.”
But, after the senior’s initial victory, the Bears struggled to maintain their momentum throughout the match.
Stanford began its consequent domination with Choy defeating Berta Passola Folch 7-5, 6-1.
Then, despite a close first set, No. 24 Yepifanova broke No. 48 Alsola’s 18-match winning streak. Alsola’s last loss had been against USC’s McKenna Koenig on Jan. 6, during the Weinman Foundation Invitational. Nevertheless, Stanford’s Yepifanova took the match 7-6(3), 6-2.
The Cardinal swept the rest of the Bears — Cal had no answer for Stanford’s performance on the courts.
The win was secured after Wiersholm fell to No. 43 Blake, adding to Stanford’s decisive display, 6-1, 7-5. Ivanov, despite winning the first set 6-3, ultimately lost to No. 82 Blokhina, who came back to win 3-6, 6-4, 6-0.
Finally, capping off Stanford’s commanding efforts, Xu defeated Viller Moeller, 7-5, 7-6(2).
“It was a very high level, competitive match,” Augustus said. “Every single court, whether we won or lost, we were in a very close position to win it if we didn’t — I think the match was a lot closer than what the (final) score indicated.
With the loss, Cal finished the regular season with an 11-8 overall record and a 7-3 Pac-12 conference record. Stanford, notching another win to its undefeated conference season, finishing with an overall 18-2 record and a 10-0 conference record.
Despite the loss, a Pac-12 conference title is still in play for the Bears. The team will need to regroup before it travels to Ojai on April 26 for a chance to win the postseason conference championship — a title the Cardinal have won every year since 2017, aside from when Cal took home the win in 2021.
“I don’t think we served as well as I would have liked, so I think we are going to work on our serves, a little bit of singles and doubles,” Augustus said. “We are in a really great position, morale isn’t an issue at all.
Cal is tied for second in conference standings and is set to begin play April 27.