After shutting out San Jose State 4-0 on Friday and eliminating Kentucky 4-2 on Saturday in a pair of dual matches in Berkeley, Cal advanced to the round of 16 of the women’s NCAA tennis championships for the first time since 2017.
“This is a huge deal,” said Cal senior Anna Bright, who won both of her matches over the weekend convincingly and boasts a 20-3 dual-match record. “We just want to see how far we can go, see if we can be a darkhorse.”
And the Golden Bears’ reward for winning their first two matches in the 64-team event? A match against undefeated No. 1-ranked North Carolina.
The teams that survived the 16 regional events will travel to Orlando, Fla., for the four final rounds, with 16th-seeded Cal facing the heavily favored Tar Heels in its opener next Sunday.
“They’re so good, so deep,” said Bright in the video atop the story. ”It’s a huge challenge, but definitely not impossible.
“If enough of us play up to the upper limits of our ability, we can definitely beat them. We’re not the favorite, but we weren’t the favorite in the Pac-12 [tournament] either.”
Indeed, heading into the conference tournament, Cal had lost its final two regular-season dual matches, to Stanford and UCLA. And the April 10 loss then-seventh-ranked UCLA was a 7-0 shutout in which nearly every match was one-sided.
But two weeks later, in the Pac-12 tournament, Cal defeated Stanford, then, posted a stunning 4-2 victory over regular-season champion UCLA, which was then ranked No. 4. More surprising still was the fact that most of the Bears’ singles wins were as lopsided as their losses had been just two weeks earlier.
“They simply were not as hungry as us,” Bright said. “I think that was partially because they had beaten us so badly a couple weeks ago, they might have thought we would roll over.”
So now Cal has won five dual matches in a row to improve its record to 19-6 and roll into Florida with momentum.
For Bright, it will be a particularly important trip because she is from Boca Raton, Fla., which is close enough to Orlando to allow her parents and friends attend the matches. Her father, who was her coach growing up, has never seen her play since she arrived at Cal in the fall of 2017.
A double major in business administration and data science, Bright does not expect her final exams scheduled for this week to get in her way of preparing for North Carolina.
Here is the result of Cal’s second-round victory over 26th-ranked Kentucky on Saturday:
May 8, 2021, in Berkeley, Calif.
Hellman Tennis Complex
1.Haley Giavara/Valentina Ivanov (Cal) def. No. 1 Akvile Parazinskaite/Fiona Arrese (UK), 7-6(6)*
2. Anna Bright/Hannah Viller Moeller Moeller (Cal) def. Ana Tkachenko/Carla Girbau (UK), 6-1
3. Jada Bui/Erin Richarson (Cal) vs. Lesedi Jacobs/Elizabeth Stevens (UK), 6-6 Unfinished
Order of Finish - 2, 1*
*Clinched the doubles point
1. No. 28 Akvile Parazinskaite (UK) def. No. 31Haley Giavara (Cal), 6-4, 6-2
2. No. 115 Lesedi Jacobs (UK) def. Julia Rosenqvist (Cal), 2-6, 6-0, 6-3
3. Valentina Ivanov (Cal) vs. Carlota Molina (UK), 7-6(2), 5-7, 0-1 Unfinished
4. Jada Bui (Cal) def. Elizabeth Stevens (UK), 2-6, 6-1, 7-5^
5. Hannah Viller Moeller (Cal) def. Carla Girbau (UK), 6-2, 6-2
6. Anna Bright (Cal) def. Fiona Arrese (UK), 6-1, 6-1
Order of Finish - 6, 1, 5, 2, 4^
^Clinched the overall win
Cover photo of Anna Bright by Pac-12 Conference
Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53
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