Visico Nails Clincher as Cal Draws Duke in Round of 16

Photo: Senior Cristina Visico, who finished the dual season ranked No. 35 in the nation in singles with a 15-6 record, put the finishing touches on the Bears' win over LSU.
Tollef Biggs/Photo
Senior Cristina Visico, who finished the dual season ranked No. 35 in the nation in singles with a 15-6 record, put the finishing touches on the Bears' win over LSU.

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An all too familiar image took place as Cristina Visico once again clinched a match for the Cal women's tennis team. This time, though, her victory sent the squad to the round of 16 in the NCAA championship tournament.

Her 6-3, 6-0 win over LSU's Hannah Robinson in the Bears' 4-0 second-round victory on Saturday marks the fifth time the senior has clinched a match for Cal this season.

"I don't know if I'm getting used to it, but I do feel comfortable in these situations," Visico said.

With the win, the No. 8-seeded Bears will now face ninth-seeded Duke Thursday in Tulsa, Okla. Cal also defeated Army 4-0 in Friday's first round match-up.

In the 26 years that women's tennis has used the NCAA tournament format, this marks the 22nd time where the Bears have advanced to the round of 16.

Cal came out Friday in dominating fashion by not giving up a single game in all three doubles matches. Singles play was not much different, as the Bears were able to wrap up the victory in an hour and 30 minutes.

Saturday's opponent proved a little tougher. Led by All-American Megan Falcon, the Tigers put up a fight in both doubles and singles, but Cal, once again, did not surrender a point in the overall score.

"I was most looking forward to seeing good focus and concentration on every court because these were teams we were supposed to beat, and it could have been easy to let up a little bit and not play aggressive," Bears coach Amanda Augustus said. "The girls at LSU, they fought and used different tactics and adjusted, but we readjusted and stepped up."

Junior Claire Ilcinkas and freshman Marina Cossou set the tone for the team, as the duo came out in doubles and crushed LSU's team of Robinson and Tiffany Tucker by a score of 8-0. Cal's duo also won 8-0 the day before against Army's Kristin Beehler and Sarah Giles-Madden.

"We played two good matches this weekend," Ilcinkas said. "Even though the opponents weren't that strong, it's still tough to win 8-0, so we feel really good together. We know we can play well."

Ilcinkas' partner Cossou, primarily on court one, played on court two for both matches as former NCAA singles champion Susie Babos re-emerged from her recent slump by capturing a victory on Friday and holding a lead Saturday against Falcon when Visico clinched the match.

"I worked really hard the past two weeks with extra hits and extra conditioning, so I feel I can work my way into a match at this point," Babos said. "I think my game's getting better."

The Bears now move on to Tulsa for the next leg of the tournament. The team realizes much work is to be done, but nonetheless decided to celebrate their advancement by dumping a cooler of water over Augustus.

"It was quite refreshing actually," Augustus said. "I just hope I get another one in a week and a half."


Contact Jimmy Tran at [email protected]

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