Cal Hosts Saint Mary’s Monday In 2021 Season Opener
BERKELEY – The California men's tennis team returns to competition for the first time in nine month when it hosts Saint Mary's in the Golden Bears' 2021 season opener on Monday, Jan. 18 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day – at 11 a.m. at the Hellman Tennis Complex.
Cal had compiled a 5-3 record in 2019-20 and was scheduled to play the Gaels in Berkeley on March 17, 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic forced a premature end to the season. The Bears last competed on March 8 in the Pacific Coast Doubles Championships in La Jolla, California, with the pair of Ben Draper and Bjorn Hoffmann reaching the semifinals. The Bears' last 2019-20 dual match also took place in La Jolla, where they took on Oklahoma State on March 5.
Fans can watch Monday's match – which is closed to the public – through Cal's live stream on CalBears.com and can keep track of Cal-Saint Mary's on Twitter @CalMensTennis.
Bears In The Rankings
Four Bears garnered rankings in this year's preseason Oracle ITA singles poll, with Yuta Kikuchi ranked 42nd, Jack Molloy at No. 44, Paul Barretto sitting at No. 63 and newcomer Philip Hjorth tabbed at No. 97. In the doubles preseason poll, the duo of Barretto and Can Kaya claimed a No. 36 ranking.
Kikuchi, who was ranked 36th in the last poll of 2019-20, went 13-9 in singles last year. The Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2019, Kikuchi captured the title at the Audi Napa Valley Classic in the fall of 2019, was the runner-up at the ITA Northwest Regional Championships and competed in the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships.
Molloy, ranked 59th to close last season, posted a 7-5 record in the abbreviated 2019-20 season. He began the year with wins over Harvard's Ronan Jachuk – who's currently ranked 56th – 6-3, 6-4 and Michigan's Andrew Fenty – now ranked 16th – 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-2 in Napa.
Barretto was ranked 79th in the spring of 2020 and ended the year on a nine-match winning streak – including a 6-4, 6-2 win over USC's 26th-ranked Riley Smith – to finish 14-4. He also had a strong fall, reaching the quarterfinals of the Milwaukee Tennis Classic and the round of 16 of the ITA Northwest Regional Championships. He also paired with Kaya to reach the doubles semifinals in Milwaukee and the round of 16 in the ITA Northwest Regional Championships.
Hjorth, who transferred to Cal after playing his first two years for Pacific, posted a 13-10 singles record in his final year as a Tiger in 2019-20, when he was ranked 120th to end the spring.
New Bears Join Cal
Peter Wright, Cal's Director of Men's Tennis, added three players to the squad in Hjorth, freshman Noah Gampel and freshman Lucas Magnaudet and brought in two coaches to his staff in assistant coach Horacio Matta and volunteer assistant coach Rajeev Ram. Gampel, a righthander from Malibu, California, was ranked as high as No. 49 among national recruits, while Magnaudet, who hails from Cofignon, Switzerland, brings more international experience to the Bears.
Matta, the father of former Cal player Gunther Matta, is an experienced coach and former professional player who's worked with Chile's Davis Cup team, with the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida and with several talented international and local talents. He also served as Stanford's volunteer assistant coach last season.
Ram, a two-time Grand Slam champion who's still active in the pro ranks, paired with Barbora Krejcíková to win the 2019 mixed doubles title at the Australian Open and teamed with Joe Salisbury to capture the 2020 doubles crown at the Australian Open. Ram, who also reached the 2020 US Open doubles semifinals and 2020 French Open doubles quarterfinals with Salisbury, is currently ranked 15th in the ATP doubles poll.