Bears In the Hunt for Title

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They've held their own for most of the season, losing twice in conference play to undefeated Stanford and most recently to a talented UCLA squad.

But now comes the real test - the Pac-10 Championships.

Not only is the Cal women's tennis team competing against nine of the nation's toughest teams - all of the Pac-10 teams have been ranked in the top-50 at some point in the season -- but the Bears (17-6 overall, 6-2 in the Pac-10) have never claimed a singles conference title.

Overcoming these obstacles will be no easy feat, especially considering that one of Cal's opponents is the seemingly unstoppable Cardinal. Stanford compiled a 25-0 overall regular season record and is a 13-time Pac-10 champion.

"They are an incredibly strong squad," Bears coach Jan Brogan said. "Obviously they are really good considering no one has beaten them yet."

In fact, it was the Card's duo of Marissa Irvin and Teryn Ashley - both members of this year's Stanford squad - that halted Cal's Anita Kurimay and Claire Curran from claiming the doubles title last year.

Despite last season's loss, the Bears hold an impressive four doubles titles since 1987. The most recent victory was in 1997 when now-graduated Amanda Augustus paired up with Curran to claim the championship.

Singles titles are a different story.

Cal has never won a singles title at the championships and the squad is hoping to ride the momentum it built in the regular season into this year's postseason.

"We finished the end of our season right where we wanted to be, on a high note," Brogan said. "Now we are just looking to continue to play strong in the postseason and to maintain the level of play that we exited on."

Several Cal players enter the championships playing solid tennis.

Senior Amy Jensen enters the tournament with a 99-44 overall record and just one victory away from reaching the 100-win mark.

Kurimay leads the Bears in wins with 26 on the season, and Karoline Borgersen is looking to extend her six-match winning streak with a strong showing at the championships.

"We want to be playing peak tennis right now with the NCAAs coming up," Brogan said. "I think the team as a whole is playing well and that is our biggest goal."

A Pac-10 committee decides at the tournament which draws each team will receive and what players will compete in the specific portion of the tournament.

Although the tournament determines the individual singles champion and doubles champion, the Bears' ranking for the NCAA tournament is not in danger of falling. Cal's last regular-season victory over USC guaranteed the Bears a seed in the top-8 for NCAAs.

"After losing to UCLA we might fall a little in the rankings," Brogan said. "But we should definitely be in the top-8, which is where you want to be if you want to succeed in the tournament."


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