Bears' Losing Streak Hits Three Games After Bedeviling Weekend in Arizona

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After a bitter loss to No. 2 Stanford last Saturday, the No. 7 Cal women's tennis team headed south for the warm Arizona sun to get some fine weather and to recover its lost rhythm.

While the Bears received lots of sunshine under the Tempe sky, their game on the court remained cold against No. 5 Duke and Arizona State at the Whiteman Tennis Complex.

The Blue Devils thrashed Cal, 5-2, on Friday, while the Sun Devils squeaked past the Bears, 4-3, on Saturday. Under the spell of the devilish duo, Cal (10-4, 2-0 in the Pac-10) suffered its first three-game losing streak since April 21, 2007.

The Bears were looking ahead at the weekend as a perfect opportunity to wash away the sour taste left by their defeat at the Big Slam. In addition to playing a top-five team, Cal wanted a chance of vengeance against Duke since the Blue Devils beat the Bears in the 2009 NCAA Championship match to claim their first title.

Duke (12-2) overpowered Cal on the lower courts. The Bears' top two players, Jana Juricova and Mari Andersson won there respective matches, but the remaining four singles matches resulted in losses for Cal. In fact, three of the four matches on the back courts ended rapidly, giving Duke the necessary points to win the match.

There were many faults in Cal's play this weekend but none were more glaring than doubles. The doubles point is a crucial part in collegiate tennis as the doubles points' winner has a higher leverage at winning the entire match.

Cal's record this season serves an excellent example of its importance. The Bears hold an 11-0 record after garnering the initial point; in contrast, they have an 0-4 record after losing the doubles point.

"We lost the doubles point for the past three matches," Cal coach Amanda Augustus said. "We definitely got work to do. We are going to evaluate our play. We are going to work on our positioning, and we have to play more aggressive."

Another issue Cal encountered was the hot Arizona weather. Playing in the 85-degree heat, several players had trouble adjusting to the warmth and playing two tennis matches within 24 hours.

The fitness problem can be exploited when the Bears take on Harvard and Hawaii this week at home. After only a three-day break, Cal will play the Crimson on Tuesday and the Warriors on Thursday. It is possible to see some lineup adjustments to rest some of the fatigued players from last week.

Although Augustus was disappointed about the Bears' recent slump, she still upheld her vision that the ultimate goal of the season is for the NCAA Championships in May.

"The great thing about our sport is that we have the opportunity to come back and win in a couple of days," she said. "It's still only March, so we have plenty of time. It helped wake us up. It's still a work in progress."


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

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