Bears gaining speed as postseason approaches

Cal plays twice at home as Fresno State and Washington come to Berkeley this weekend

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Over the past couple of weeks, the No. 7 Cal women's tennis team seems to have picked up its game, winning four of its last five matches, including contests against ranked foes USC and Arizona State.

But with only two more weeks left on the schedule, the Bears (14-5, 5-1 in the Pac-10) have entered the dog days of the season, as they will face off against No. 23 Washington and Fresno State this weekend at Hellman Tennis Complex.

In the second week of its three-week home stay, Cal will first face off against the Huskies (11-8, 2-4) on Friday at 1:30 p.m. and then the Bulldogs (5-10) on Saturday at noon.

Both teams should be familiar to the Bears. Cal played both Washington and Fresno State almost exactly one year ago, with similar results. The Bears crushed the Huskies at their home in Seattle, 6-1, and blanked the Bulldogs at Hellman, 7-0.

For both opponents, their season has been the tale of two different directions. Washington has improved from its 11-6 season, and for most of the season, it has stayed at the tail end of the top-25 rankings.

Meanwhile, Fresno State has maintained its poor performance from last season, logging a sub-.500 record for the second consecutive season.

The past two seasons have been a huge dive for the Bulldog program. In 2009, it recorded a stellar 19-5 regular season, won the WAC title and advanced to the sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament.

With only one upperclassman on the whole squad, the Bulldogs are gathering experience in their return to national prominence.

On the contrary, the Huskies have two talented upperclassmen. Junior Denise Dy, a Bay Area native, is currently ranked No. 5 in singles and No. 10 in doubles with senior Venise Chan. Chan is ranked No. 20 in singles.

But it is a tall order for the Washington duo to gather an upset win over Cal in Berkeley. Dy's likely singles opponent, No. 2 Jana Juricova, has not lost a singles match this season.

Juricova will look forward to chalking a third victory over a top-5 opponent this season; her other victories came against Stanford's Hilary Barte and USC's Maria Sanchez.

With the season nearly over and the NCAA tournament within a month, the Bears find their game clicking in all cylinders as of now.

In doubles they are led by the No. 3 duo of Juricova and senior Mari Andersson. But they have recently installed a new pair to the lineup. The newly formed duo of sophomore Annie Goransson and freshman Anett Schutting has not lost a game in five matches.

Currently, the pair is ranked No. 25, providing the squad with an effective second doubles team, crucial to winning that all-important first point.


Contact Seung Y. Lee at [email protected]

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