Cal Aiming For Return to Finals After Early Exit In 2010 Season

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Head coach Amanda Augustus found her team in uncharted territory last May.

After advancing to the NCAA Team Championship finals in the first two years under Augustus' leadership, the Cal women's tennis team ended its postseason run early after falling in the round of 16.

For a coach and team so attuned to postseason success, the upcoming season represents the chance to find their way back to the familiarity of the finals and achieve the lofty goal of capturing a national title.

Making a return trip to the NCAA Championship will hardly be a cakewalk though.

After hosting the Cal Winter Invitational and the ITA Kickoff Weekend at the Hellman Tennis Complex in January, the No. 10 Bears open conference play against No. 5 UCLA - an opponent that is just one example of the strength of the Pac-10.

A perennial tennis powerhouse, the Pac-10 boasts a total of six schools ranked in the top 25 of the ITA's preseason poll. Cal is still slated to face Pac-10 rivals Arizona State, UCLA and Stanford, the defending national champion, twice each.

When tasked with such a rigorous schedule, it certainly helps to field an experienced squad; the bulk of the team remains the same from last season.

Cal returns seven out of nine players from their 2009-10 season, including junior Jana Juricova, who is ranked first among the nation's singles players.

A stellar sophomore campaign saw the Slovak native capture the singles crown in the ITA National Indoor Championship and advance to the NCAA singles quarterfinals, a distinction once held by former Bears' player Susie Babos in 2006.

Although the squad's lineups are not yet finalized for the season, sophomores Tayler Davis and Annie Goransson have proven themselves ready to step up with strong performances in the fall.

Two members of the team who have the most familiarity with the rigors of the dual season are Mari Andersson and Marina Cossou.

The two represent the most senior leadership Cal has had since its last NCAA Championship finals appearance in 2009.

Another source of the squad's strength lies in doubles play. The doubles point was a near guarantee for the Bears, who won 21 out of 25 last season.

Juricova and Andersson's prowess as Cal's top duo was nearly unparalleled, as the two posted a 21-3 record from the No. 1 spot.

The tandem dominated once again in the fall tournament season with a record of 13-2, leading to its No. 5 preseason doubles ranking.

As a team, the Bears are no strangers to the difficulty of dual meet play in the Pac-10. Even with a daunting schedule, the history of success under Augustus' guidance and the talent throughout the lineup bode well for Cal's season.

Tags: CAL WOMEN'S TENNIS, JANA JURICOVA, AMANDA AUGUSTUS


Catherine Nguyen covers women's tennis. Contact her at [email protected]



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