Zerbini Rebounds, Helps Lead Cal's Sweep of Gauchos

Photo: Pedro Zerbini earned his 10th singles victory of the season on Sunday with a two-set victory over UCSB's Alex Konigsfeldt
Anne Marie Schuler/Staff
Pedro Zerbini earned his 10th singles victory of the season on Sunday with a two-set victory over UCSB's Alex Konigsfeldt

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Pedro Zerbini shouted in his native Portuguese and swung his racket violently through the air. The visibly aggravated senior captain had begun making costly mistakes in the second set after quickly putting away UC Santa Barbara's Alex Konigsfeldt, 6-3, in the first.

By the time Konigsfeldt gained his first lead on Sunday, 3-4, it seemed like the pressure at Hellman Tennis Complex was starting to affect Zerbini.

When he finally walked off the court with a 6-4 turnaround triumph over the top Gaucho and his own 10th singles win of the season, Zerbini pocketed the match for the No. 19 Cal men's tennis team as well. The Bears (4-3) swept UCSB (5-2), 7-0, dropping only one singles set.

Cal started off the match on a high note when the duo of Zerbini and junior Tommie Murphy overpowered Mathieu Forget and Benjamin Recknagel, 8-1, on doubles court No. 2. However, the Gauchos claimed the second match, 8-4, forcing the doubles decision onto the top court, where junior Nick Andrews and sophomore Christoffer Konigsfeldt faced Taylor Chavez Goggin and Konigsfeldt's older brother, Alex.

"Chris and Nick took a little while to get going," coach Peter Wright said. "I think it was a challenge for Chris to play his brother."

Indeed, when the score sat tied at 7-7 and the individual game at deuce, the match was as close as a doubles match can get. This was not a playful match-up between two brothers; it was an aggressive battle between two rivals.

"It was weird to play against Alex," Konigsfeldt said. "But by the time it was around seven-all, I started to forget that he was my brother. I just tried to be aggressive and always keep the pressure on the opponent."

His mindset paid off, as the Bears took the next two games and clinched the doubles point. That match, along with Zerbini's singles contest, was one of the few times where it looked like Cal was struggling against its UC sibling from the south.

Winning the doubles point - a feat the team has only accomplished once this season - was a definite boost to Cal going into singles, Wright said.

One after another, the Bears routed their singles opponents up and down the courts, never letting the Gauchos gain the upper hand. The only time a Gaucho earned a victory was during the face-off on court No. 5, where senior Bozhidar Katsarov fell to Max Glenn in the second set. With the score split between the two players, 6-5, 5-7, the match delved into a drawn-out tiebreaker that eventually ended in a 10-7 win to Cal.

According to Wright, although the Bears are still a work in progress, a focus on the four-five-six courts was a strong factor in Sunday's results.

"There has to be this idea that we never give anybody anything," Wright said. "We had that mentality in singles, and it was definitely a key to our success."


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

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