Bears Back Outdoors in Return Home Against Northwest Rivals

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Mother Nature has not been kind to the No. 6 Cal women's tennis team.

After coming back a day late from Virginia last weekend due to a snowstorm delay, the Bears (7-1) received news that rain may postpone their weekend home matches against Washington State (8-2) and Oregon (6-2).

Cal, back from the ITA Team Indoors after dropping its opening round match to Northwestern, will play at its own Hellman Tennis Complex for the first time since Feb. 4. The Bears face off against the Cougars on Friday at 1:30 p.m. and against the Ducks on Saturday at noon.

The Bears left the tournament on a bittersweet note. After losing 4-1 to the Wildcats on Friday, they won the two consolation matches against No. 15 Georgia Tech and No. 16 Arkansas on Saturday and Sunday. Northwestern may have been the underdog coming into the match, but Cal coach Amanda Augustus said the Wildcats' familiarity with indoor courts helped them offset the talent gap.

Like Northwestern, Washington State and Oregon play on indoor courts. To exploit the squads' inexperience on different terrain, the Bears have practiced outdoor court techniques to emphasize their strengths on their home courts.

As indoor court teams are more accustomed to a faster tempo, Augustus has held groundstroke drills to slow the match down and to shake the opponents from their comfort zones.

Although the Cougars and the Ducks both have a winning record, neither has competed against any top-20 teams this season. Considering that the majority of players on both teams are underclassmen, they have a daunting task to defeat the Bears.

Augustus also emphasized the play of her first-year players. During the ITA Team Indoors Championships, the coach experimented with different lineups that included freshmen Alice Duranteau and Anett Schutting.

Schutting, who appeared in her first matches for Cal last weekend, played in all three contests. The Estonian native has played in doubles with senior Marina Cossou, who was impressed with her teammate's composure and talents.

"We have been good complements to each other in doubles," Cossou said. "I'm more of a setter, and she likes to poach nearby the net. I need a partner (like) that."

While Schutting and Duranteau are improving their game, senior Mari Andersson was awarded as the Pac-10 Player of the Week. She was the only player to win all three matches for the Bears last weekend.

Andersson, who also received the award two years ago, is the second Cal player to receive the honor this season after fellow Swede Annie Goransson won it just two weeks ago.

"It's a tradition on our team," Augustus said. "Mari has won all the matches indoor this week. I'm happy for her to win it for Cal."

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


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



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