Bears Square Off Against Arizona Schools in Last Home Matches of the Season

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The season-long ordeal between No. 10 Cal women's tennis team and Mother Nature has been looking like a Goldilocks story. First, the Bears had it too cold in a snowstorm in Virginia last month. Then they had it too hot in the scorching heat wave in Arizona three weeks ago.

Now that the week's weather is just right, Cal (12-5) readied themselves for the last home stretch of the season. Arizona and No. 13 Arizona State will square off against the Bears this weekend, the first two of five matches at Hellman Tennis Complex.

The Wildcats (15-4) and the Sun Devils (13-3) will face off against Cal today at 1:30 p.m. and tomorrow at noon, respectively.

As Pac-10 adversaries, the Bears have played both schools nearly every season. While Cal has not faced Arizona this season, the Bears took a painful 4-3 loss against Arizona State three weeks.

"We hope to get our revenge," senior Marina Cossou said. "Both teams have NCAA Championships coming up, and this also is a Pac-10 match, so we expect a big battle this weekend."

With only five games remaining in the regular season, the Bears saved their top competition for last. Arizona State has been red-hot in the past three weeks, quickly climbing the rankings from outside the top 25 into No. 13. Arizona, although unranked, improved immensely this season from their lackluster performance last season.

"Arizona has top players in front of their lineup and a completely different doubles team," Cal coach Amanda Augustus said. "I don't know what to expect from their doubles."

Doubles has been the Achilles' heel for Cal in many games this season. In the past six matches, the Bears have lost five doubles points and came away with a 2-4 record. With Arizona State's doubles play led by the No. 18 partnership of Kelcy McKenna and Micaela Hein and Arizona's revamped doubles tactics, it is another obstacle Cal has to overcome.

Despite the decline in the Bears' performance in the past six games, Augustus still believes her squad is ready to contend for the NCAA title. To her, every match in the season is like stepping stones that helps Cal take flight when the NCAA tournaments roll around. And with the stepping stones now down to five, she believes that her team is right on track for the postseason tournaments.

"We are still in contention for the Pac-10 title and still ranked within the top 10," Augustus said. "We always want to do better and improve, but our goal is to peak for the NCAA tournament in May."


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

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