Bears' Duos Prove Double Trouble in Home Win Over Utes

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Every other match had long since ended in the No. 18 Cal men's tennis team's victory over Utah. But sophomore Carlos Cueto was still out on the court of the Hellman Tennis Complex indefatigably battling the Utes' Dmytro Mamedov.

Cueto was stoic and in control. He didn't sweat a lost point, and he forced his opponent to dance circles around the court. The first set was a back-and-forth nail-biter that lasted far longer than normal. The other five matches had already finished neatly and without drama.

Overall, the Bears (3-2) clinched their first home match of the season on Wednesday without ever letting Utah (2-3) earn a win.

At that moment, though, Cal was just waiting on Cueto.

"We all try to yell and clap for him," freshman Ben McLachlan said. "We can tell he's not having a great time of it, and we have to support him."

Cueto may have been physically defeated, but he finished the victor of a 7-6, 6-4 fight and secured a straight sweep of the match.

The Bears started the match on a high note and didn't falter once. Throughout the past week the team diligently focused on doubles. Yesterday it reaped the reward by not only winning its first doubles point of the season, but winning all three of the matches.

Two of the Cal duos neatly dominated the Utes with 8-3 victories. But the tandem on the No. 1 court, comprised of senior captain Pedro Zerbini and junior Sky Lovill, met a challenge during the seventh game as the advantage kept switching sides and no team could gain the win.

"We were a little flat at the start," Lovill said. "We haven't played together too often. But I think we both used the energy to play better toward the end of the game."

Utah may have won that seventh game on the top court, but just like Cueto on the singles court, Zerbini and Lovill finally walked away with an 8-6 win for themselves and the elusive doubles point for Cal.

"We put out some quality doubles teams today," coach Peter Wright said. "The chemistry was right, the game styles matched. It's almost like opposites attract. You're looking to see who complements who. It's exciting to start a match with that point."

By the time the singles players took the court, Utah didn't stand a chance. One after another the Bears trampled the Utes in a rapid-fire sequence. The highest Utah score occurred in the No. 2 court contest between Cueto and Mamedov; otherwise no Utah player surpassed four points.

"What stood out was the discipline the guys applied to the match," Wright said. "They were focused on what we did in practice. When you have straight set wins like that, it just shows the mental focus of the players."

However, the Bears don't have much time to bask in the glory of yesterday's victory.

This Saturday Cal clashes with rival No. 8 Stanford at home in the aptly named Big Slam.


Annie Gerlach covers men's tennis. Contact her at [email protected]

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