Cal Splits Weekend Against L.A. Rivals

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The courts were different, but not much else changed this time around.

This weekend, the No. 12 Cal men's tennis team opened Pac-10 play with a split against No. 13 UCLA and No. 3 USC on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Exactly one month prior, the Bears played back-to-back matches against the Bruins and the Trojans in Los Angeles. The team finished that weekend with an upending of the former and a rained out match versus the latter.

For the second time this season, Cal edged out the Bruins - this time in a 4-3 decision. The 1:30 p.m. tilt began Saturday with a drawn-out doubles round in which all three matches were decided by tiebreakers. After nearly 100 minutes of play time, the Bears (9-5, 1-1 in the Pac-10) finally clinched the doubles point on court No. 1.

Cal's No. 21 tandem of junior Nick Andrews and sophomore Christoffer Konigsfeldt defeated Alex Brigham and Adrien Puget, 9-8(6), on the top court. The Bears' duo broke a 6-all score in the tiebreaker with two consecutive points and ended the doubles round in a Cal triumph.

Throughout the singles round, Cal never yielded its early lead. The team notched another two points with Konigsfeldt's fourth-court win over Puget and sophomore Carlos Cueto's defeat of Amit Inbar on court No. 2. UCLA (11-5, 0-2 Pac-10) tacked up its first team point as Maxime Tabatruong overpowered Ben McLachlan on court No. 5.

However, its late surge proved futile when senior Bozhidar Katsarov secured a Cal victory in his sixth-court win over Brigham. Katsarov was also the player to clinch the contest against the Bruins a month ago.

Coming off the victory, the team stormed home court at noon the next day in a battle against USC.

And just like the Feb. 25 match against the Trojans, Sunday's contest was delayed due to inclement weather.

As they did at Marks Stadium, the teams resumed the event on Sunday by starting with singles. After five matches, however, Cal lost to USC, 4-1.

No. 15 senior captain Pedro Zerbini was the first to fall after dropping two sets to No. 1 Steve Johnson. The Trojans (16-2, 2-0 Pac-10) swept the next two matches to stake the score at 3-0. USC's Ray Sarmiento nabbed a 6-4, 6-3 win over Konigsfeldt on court No. 4.

Soon after, Emilio Gomez took a 7-4 first-set tiebreaker over Ben McLachlan on court No. 5 before taking the second set, 7-5, for himself as well.

Andrews put up the only point for the Bears in his defeat of No. 24 Daniel Nguyen on court No. 3. The two opponents traded wins in the first two sets before Andrews gained a 6-4 win in the third set.

However, USC's Michael Grant retaliated with a sixth-court win over Katsarov in three sets to decide the final score of the day.

With the match decided, play on court No. 2 between Cueto and Jaak Poldma was cancelled.


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

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