Netters Earn SoCal Split

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Some were outmatched, some prevailed effortlessly and for some, last weekend was a test of patience and endurance.

Despite glaring differences in individual play, the Cal women's tennis team managed to combine its efforts to split its matches against UCLA and USC.

After dropping a hard-fought 5-4 decision to the Bruins Friday, the Bears came back big against the Trojans, securing the match in singles, 5-1, the next day.

No. 4 Cal (17-6, 6-2 in the Pac-10) lost its first match in almost a month when it fell to the UCLA (14-7, 6-1). Just two weekends ago, the team had easily defeated the Bruins, 6-3.

With the loss, the Bears' chances of remaining in the top-4 heading into the NCAA Championships is less sure than if the team had ended its regular season with a sweep of UCLA and USC.

"I think with our loss, we might get the No. 5 or No. 6 seed," Cal coach Jan Brogan said. "I'm not too worried about that, though. You just want to stay in the top eight for nationals and we will definitely be there."

The Bruins' Sara Walker, who is on a roll following her defeat of then-No. 1 Kristina Kraszewski two weeks ago, swept Amy Jensen on the No. 1 singles court, 6-2, 6-2. No. 21 Jensen played strong throughout the match, but No. 7 Walker was able to gain early momentum and carried it for the remainder of the match.

"I wouldn't take anything away from Amy, she played great," Brogan said. "But Sara is playing incredibly well and I probably shouldn't have shuffled the lineup. Anita (Kurimay) has a game that can vary a little more and that probably would have been the better matchup (against Walker)."

Perhaps the longest and most difficult loss was UCLA's Abigail Spears' defeat of Claire Curran on court No. 3.

Curran had a 4-2 lead in one set, and was ahead in the tiebreaker, 5-2, but let those chances slip away and eventually fell, 6-2, 5-7, 6-7 (7-5).

"I think Claire's match was the key," Brogan said. "We could have won on that match and she had multiple chances to pull it through."

Although the Bears dropped matches on courts one, four and five, wins by Kurimay, Karoline Borgersen and Christina Fusano tied the match at three apiece heading into doubles play.

The Bruins' Annica Cooper and Peya Marinova easily took care of Jenny Lee and Emeka Mayes on court No. 3, but a victory on court No. 2 by Jensen and Curran knotted the match at four apiece. The final outcome was decided when Kurimay and Borgersen lost, 8-5, to the tandem of Amanda Basica and Walker on the No. 1 court.

"Their No. 1 doubles team is playing really well right now," Brogan said. "We were up, but we let them back into the match and even gave them the momentum. That pretty much did it."

Saturday's match against USC (15-8, 4-4) seemed like a walk in the park compared to the day before.

Morisa Yang's 6-2, 6-4 loss on court No. 5 to Anita Loyola was Cal's only defeat. Yang dropped both of her matches this past weekend, falling Friday to Elizabeth Schmidt of UCLA, 6-4, 6-4.

"Morisa has been consistently strong as of late," Brogan said. "This weekend she was just a little tired and it showed, but I am sure once she is rested things will be just fine."

The only other match that looked as if the Trojans had a chance in was on the No. 1 court. Kurimay dropped the first set, 5-7, to USC's Kara Warekentin and had to battle back to claim the second set, 6-4. The third set was equally tough - Kurimay had to overcome an early two-game deficit to claim the contest, 6-3.

With the regular season at an end, the Bears are already looking ahead to the NCAA tournament.

"This weekend was good because we finished strong and ended this segment of play on a high note," Brogan said. "Now all we need to do is stay rested and confident as a team and ideally, hope we don't face Stanford until the semifinal or final of the tournament."

Cal is next in action at the Pac-10 Championships in Ojai, Calif. beginning Thursday.


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