Cal Ousted In Pac-12 Quarters In Ojai
OJAI, Calif. – Sixteenth-ranked and fifth-seeded California lost in its first match of the Pac-12 Championship on Thursday, with the Golden Bears falling to fourth-seeded and fifteenth-ranked USC, 4-1, at Weil Tennis Academy. The Trojans clinched when Danielle Willson defeated Cal sophomore Hana Mraz, 7-6(4), 6-1, at court-six singles.
Cal got first blood in doubles when the 88th-ranked pair of Olivia Hauger and Katerina Stloukalova beat Constance Branstine and Estella Jaeger, 6-1, on court three. But the Trojans' second-ranked Angela Kulikov and Rianna Valdes topped Cal's 17th-ranked Mraz and Julia Rosenqvist, 6-4, on court one, and then USC secured the point when Willson and Becca Weissmann edged Cal's 40th-ranked Anna Bright and Jasie Dunk, 7-6(4), on court two.
"The doubles point was important," Cal head coach Amanda Augustus said. "We created some opportunities for ourselves, which was good. But we needed to be a little more aggressive at a couple points in doubles."
USC increased its lead to 2-0 when the 105th-ranked Angela Kulikov upset Cal senior Olivia Hauger – ranked 47th – 6-2, 6-0, at court-two singles. Bright, ranked 74th, put Cal on the scoreboard at 2-1 when she bested Valdes, 6-1, 6-1, on court four. Rosenqvist, ranked 41st, suffered a first-set loss to the 50th-ranked Salma Ewing on court one, but the Swede rebounded to win the second set and then take a 3-6, 6-4, 2-1 lead.
The Trojans took a 3-1 lead when Ana Neffa beat Stloukalova, 6-1, 6-4, on court three. But any chance of a Cal comeback, with Rosenqvist potentially winning and Maria Smith – trailing Weissmann, 6-1, 5-4, on court five – perhaps rebounding ended when Willson won to end the day, since the Pac-12 tournament matches finish when a team reaches four points.
"Winning doubles gave USC some confidence going into singles," Augustus said. "We were battling back. But today we didn't necessarily play as well as we would've like to on every court. Obviously the first match is very tough in every tournament. Unfortunately we weren't able to get through it, but there's another tournament that starts next week that is the biggest one of the year. If we have to learn from a match, now is the time to do it and not next week."
Cal now waits for the April 29 announcement of the NCAA tournament field to find out who it plays next.
Augustus added, "Anna had another good win today; she's playing quite well. Julia also was in control of the third set on her court. We had some bright spots, but with the format of the postseason tournaments, you definitely need to be in control as quickly as you can. We'll adjust that and try to be more aggressive against our opponent in the NCAA tournament."
 No. 15 USC (18-6) defeated  No. 16/23 California (12-8), 4-1
April 25, 2019, in Ojai, Calif.
Weil Tennis Academy
1. No. 2 Angela Kulikov/Rianna Valdes (USC) def. No. 17 Hana Mraz/Julia Rosenqvist (Cal), 6-4
2. Becca Weissman/Danielle Wilson (USC) def. No. 40 Anna Bright/Jasie Dunk (Cal), 7-6(4)*
3. No. 88 Olivia Hauger/Katerina Stloukalova (Cal) def. Constance Branstine/Estella Jaeger (USC), 6-1
USC won the doubles point
Order of Finish – 3, 1, 2*
*Clinched the doubles point
1. No. 41 Julia Rosenqvist (Cal) vs. No. 50 Salma Ewing (USC), 3-6, 6-4, 2-1 DNF
2. No. 105 Angela Kulikov (USC) def. No. 47 Olivia Hauger (Cal), 6-2, 6-0
3. Ana Neffa (USC) def. Katerina Stloukalova (Cal), 6-1, 6-4
4. No. 74 Anna Bright (Cal) def. Rianna Valdes (USC), 6-1, 6-1
5. Becca Weissmann (USC) vs. Maria Smith (Cal), 6-1, 5-4 DNF
6. Danielle Willson (USC) def. Hana Mraz (Cal), 7-6(4), 6-1^
Order of Finish – 2, 4, 3, 6^
^Clinched the overall match