Wildcats Pounce on Bears in ITA Upset

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Going into the ITA Team Indoors Championship with a perfect season this weekend, the No. 5 Cal women's tennis team came to Charlottesville, Va., with hopes to win its first trophy in program history.

On paper, the Bears looked to have a favorable draw - and a chance at vengeance - against No. 20 Northwestern. Although the defending champion Wildcats defeated the Bears in the 2008 and 2010, they have struggled to keep their rankings afloat for the past year.

But for the third time in four years, Northwestern proved to be Cal's kryptonite in the indoor tournament.

The Wildcats (5-3) rolled past the Bears (5-1) in a 4-1 upset victory on Friday at the Boar's Head Tennis Club to secure their ninth consecutive victory in the championships. For the first time since 1996, Cal was eliminated from the first round of the tournament.

Northwestern came out fast and overwhelmed Cal to surprisingly secure the doubles point. With momentum at the Wildcats' side, they took the first three of four single matches to clinch their victory. Senior Mari Andersson gained Bears' only point of the day, after her opponent Brittany Wowchuk retired in the second set.

The Wildcats' hope of becoming the first team to complete a three-peat in the championships was dashed the next day when they lost to No. 4 North Carolina, 4-3. On Monday, the tournament will conclude with the matchup of No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 Florida.

Although Cal was eliminated on the first day of the tournament, its stay in Charlottesville was extended to Sunday due to a series of consolation matches. On Saturday, the Bears played No. 13 Georgia Tech, and on Sunday, they played No. 19 Arkansas. Cal defeated the Yellow Jackets, 4-1, and the Razorbacks, 4-2, improving its record to 7-1. Through these consolation matches, the Bears were able to erase some of the bitterness left by the loss on Friday.

Although the tournament boasts most of the top tennis programs in the nation, Cal coach Amanda Augustus was not afraid to try experimenting with her lineups.

The Bears' big experimentation observed in the tournament was the inclusion of newcomer Annett Schutting into the doubles and singles lineup. Schutting, a freshman from Tallinn, Estonia, was paired with senior Marina Cossou for the doubles to see if they can be a possible tandem for the future. Although Schutting had a rough debut against Northwestern - losing in both singles and doubles - she came back to win both doubles matches against Georgia Tech and Arkansas.

After two weeks of road matches, Cal is finally coming back to Berkeley to host Washington State on Friday and Oregon on Saturday.


Seung Y. Lee covers women's tennis. Contact him at [email protected]

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