Zerbini Lone Winner in Texas A&M's Blowout of Cal

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The No. 5 Cal men's tennis team must have the power to control the weather.

On a day when forecasts predicted rain, the Bears (8-4) were able to play an entire match against No. 7 Texas A&M (15-3) beneath relatively clear skies.

However, perhaps a little stormy weather would have better suited the mood surrounding Cal's 6-1 defeat on Wednesday at the Hellman Tennis Complex.

"You gotta hand it to A&M," Bears coach Peter Wright said. "They jumped on us early and never let up. They just wanted it more."

That early jump included a straight sweep of the doubles matches.

Cal's only ranked pair, No. 21 junior Nick Andrews and sophomore Christoffer Konigsfeldt, never gained a lead in its 8-5 defeat against the nation's No. 2 tandem of Jeff Dadamo and Austin Krajicek.

By the time the Texas A&M tandem of Junior Ore and Alexey Grigorov handed senior captain Pedro Zerbini and junior Tommie Murphy a 6-8 loss on court No. 2, the Aggies had already secured the doubles point on the other two courts.

"All three of our teams were flat," Zerbini said. "We got down at the beginning and that set a bad tone for the remainder of the matches."

Although Wright tried to boost his squad's energy and focus during the break, the singles portion was a variation of the same anticlimactic theme.

The Bears lacked energy throughout the court despite playing at home for the first time in over three weeks.

Sophomore Carlos Cueto was the first to fall in his 6-2, 6-2 contest against Dadamo on court No. 2. With his wild swings, it seemed that Cueto was taking one unpredictable risk after another - his gamble didn't pay off.

Every Cal player save No. 15 Zerbini met Cueto's fate. Zerbini's top-court triumph over Krajicek resulted in Cal's only point of the day.

At the onset of the singles matches, the Texas A&M athletes were predicting an easy win for No. 23 Krajicek. But by the end of the first set they were trying to boost their teammate up after each error he made.

"Pull it together, Austin," one yelled. "This guy's not gonna hurt you."

Maybe not physically, but Zerbini's performance more or less resulted in a mental dismantling of the Aggies' best singles player. Krajicek faulted on serves and returned straight into the net; he even overshot the ball into the alley when he meant to graze the corner.

"I played well from the baseline, which allowed me to get a good look at what he was doing," Zerbini said. "I could tell he was struggling.

Still, not even Zerbini's 6-3, 6-4 win could keep the Bears in the match.

"This match is really just the one that got away," Wright said. "We tried to fight it, to battle it. There were a few times we could have turned it around, but in the end the score is what it is. It was just a tough day for the Bears."


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

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