Bears Have No Time to Hang Heads After Loss

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After last weekend's loss to bitter rival Stanford, the Cal men's tennis team was noticeably upset.

The 5-2 defeat to the Cardinal wasn't exactly the way the Bears had hoped to end their regular season.

But Cal (12-10, 4-3 in the Pac-10) has no time to sulk as it enters the Pac-10 championships today in Ojai, Calif. The singles and doubles tournament, which lasts through Sunday, will be held at the Ojai Valley Athletic Club.

When asked how quickly the Bears would have to get over the painful loss, sophomore Kallim Stewart put things in perspective.

"As soon as possible. We are thinking about it, we are going to keep it in our minds because it's a motivating factor, but we have to get over it immediately," Stewart said. "When we start practicing this week the focus is Ojai and then NCAAs."

The conference tournament comes at a strange time in the season in the sense that teams have just finished conference play and still need to prepare for the NCAA tournament.

"It's awkward because we play a dual match format the whole year and now we are going to a tournament format," said Peter Smith, coach of No. 7 USC. "In some ways it's good as the guys can get some experience and guys aren't constrained by the pressures of a dual match. (But) it is awkward and it is a change. Achieving success in a dual match system is probably more important for us."

In no way does this mean the Trojans will be unprepared.

"It's a bout nonetheless and you can't look past it," Smith said. "You have to get out there and dive in with both feet."

However, Cal coach Peter Wright shares the sentiments of his conference coaching counterpart in his confusion over this week's format.

"Overall I think we'd be better served by having a team tournament for a number of reasons, the most important one is that it would get us (a chance at) a better seeding in the NCAA tournament," Wright said. "It is a little bit strange to be breaking up as individuals. It is a little bit of an anomaly on the schedule."

Only the Pac-10 and the Ivy League lack a team conference tournament. The Pac-10 has been looking into changing its format in recent years, but for now it is sticking with the individual championships.

Either way, the Bears will be ready to play today and look forward to the chance to demonstrate their talent, even if it is individually.

"From our standpoint we have some players in the top group that can win the singles and the doubles," Wright said. "For me, I am going to be excited about trying to have a Pac-10 champion on our team."

Since the inception of the tournament in 1987, Cal has never had a player win the singles or doubles title. Last year, then-junior Pierre Mouillon made it to the final four of the main singles draw but fell in straight sets to Stanford's Matt Bruch-the back-to-back defending Pac-10 singles champion. A Cardinal player has won the last four singles titles.

Eight Bears players will be competing in this weekend's championships. Mouillon, Stewart and freshmen Pedro Zerbini and Jonathan Dahan will be playing in the main singles draw, while junior Geoff Chizever will team up with Zerbini in doubles. Chizever will also be participating in the invitational singles draw.

"There are some positives about the tournament as we will get a chance to see some guys play," Wright said. "It's a good opportunity for Geoff to get out and play and to get some singles matches in."


Contact Joshua Linville at [email protected]

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