Cal Finishes Season With Plenty at Stake

Photo: Marina Cossou was out with an injury for several weeks but is back for the Big Slam. Cossou is 19-8 in singles matches.
Anna Hiatt/File
Marina Cossou was out with an injury for several weeks but is back for the Big Slam. Cossou is 19-8 in singles matches.

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A much-anticipated day for three seniors on the Cal women's tennis team is just around the corner. However, none of them expected that their final Big Slam would approach so quickly.

But these three graduating players-Claire Ilcinkas, Bojana Bobusic and Marion Ravelojaona-know that now is not the time to lose focus.

After all, the No. 8 Bears could share the conference team title with USC if Cal beats No. 12 Stanford tomorrow and the Trojans lose to UCLA this afternoon.

"It is definitely weird," Ilcinkas said. "I still don't really realize that it is my last competition against our rivals at home, but it will not affect the way I play. I won't think about it all until after the match."

The last time the two teams met, the Bears won the doubles point in a thriller at the top court, but the Cardinal bounced back in singles to claim a last-minute victory, prevailing in a 4-3 decision at Taube Family Tennis Center in Stanford.

Cal could redeem itself against Stanford at noon tomorrow at the Hellman Tennis Complex, its last match of the regular season.

The Bears (16-4, 6-1 in the Pac-10) have been taking each match one step at a time, which has brought them to their current third position in the Pac-10. They know they must bring intensity in doubles and not lose it in singles against a top team like the Cardinal (17-3, 6-1).

"We have to come out strong from the first point to the end because we know they will be ready to play against us," Ilcinkas said. "We need to be super aggressive right from the beginning and show them how ready we are to play them and beat them."

The Cal seniors' recent performances have impressed coach Amanda Augustus. Bobusic earned her 33rd singles victory of the year last weekend against Danielle Thomasma of Pepperdine. It was her 14th singles win in a row.

Ilcinkas got her 25th and 26th wins of the year, and Ravelojaona reached her 20th singles victory of the year when she defeated Siobhan Cavan of Oregon.

Though the seniors plan to put everything they have into tomorrow's match, Augustus stressed that the seniors alone cannot defeat their arch-rival.

"It is going to take a good all-around team effort," Augustus said. "Obviously, Stanford is a challenging team. That is why they are ranked high. We're going to need a good effort from everyone and going to need to step up our game."

After four years of competing against her rivals, Ilcinkas feels like this particular match against the Cardinal is one of the most important in her collegiate career.

"It means a lot for us to win," Ilcinkas said. "Boj, me and Marion are really motivated, and we want to beat them because it is Stanford and winning our last home match is important too."


Contact Lauren Bachelis at [email protected]

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