No. 20 Cal Advances To Pac-12 Final
SAN DIEGO – Anna Bright led 20th-ranked California women's tennis back to the Pac-12 Championship final when the Golden Bear senior clinched a 4-1 victory over No. 25 Stanford in Sunday's conference semifinals. Bright teamed with Hannah Viller Moeller to clinch the doubles point and later defeated Emma Higuchi, 7-6(4), 6-2, in singles to wrap up the win.
The Bears – who reached the final of the inaugural Pac-12 tournament in 2017 – improved their record to 16-6 after capturing the Big Slam. Stanford's record now stands at 14-4.
The 2021 championship will pit third-seeded Cal against top-seeded and fourth-ranked UCLA on Monday in a match broadcast by the Pac-12 Networks.The match was originally scheduled to start at 12 p.m., but a rain delay in San Diego has pushed the start back to 3:30 p.m. Please check back here later on Monday and check the team's Twitter @CalWomensTennis for more details.
The winner earns the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA tournament. Monday's match will be the fourth between the teams this season, as Cal beat the Bruins, 4-3, in a nonconference contest on Feb. 20 in Berkeley, while UCLA won the other two times.
The Bears are vying to win their first Pac-12 title since 2014. Cal also won the Pac-10 South title in 1987.
The Bears came out strong on Sunday to take the doubles point against Stanford. First, Cal's Haley Giavara and Valentina Ivanov topped the Cardinal's Michaela Gordon and Niluka Madurawe, 6-2, on court one. Bright and Viller Moeller then secured the point with a 6-2 win over Emily Arbuthnott and Angelica Blake on court two.
"We knew we really needed to play well in doubles today, and we were just really proud of the team on all three courts, especially on court two where they had lost to that team last time," said Cal head coach Amanda Augustus, referencing a 4-3 Stanford win over Cal in the April 16 regular-season finale. "They made some adjustments. It hasn't even been that long since we played them, but this team is getting better each week. We've been stressing the importance of doubles all season, and it helped us get a good amount of momentum going into the singles, though we still had to fight really hard in singles."
Giavara, ranked 62nd, posted a good win at court-one singles, besting the 39th-ranked Gordon, 6-2, 6-3, to give Cal a 2-0 advantage. The result was another difference from the April 16 Big Slam, when Giavara fell to Gordon in straight sets.
"Haley's been working really hard lately to get herself back on track," Augustus said. "And it was great to see her do well both in doubles and singles. She really settled back into the way we know she can play. That was a really big win for her today."
The Cardinal got on the scoreboard when Sara Choy beat Cal freshman Hannah Viller Moeller, 6-2, 6-4, on court five.
Jada Bui, another first-year Bear, followed with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 triumph over Ana Geller on court four to make the score 3-1 – setting up Bright for the clincher on court six.
"It was great to see Anna clinch the match today," Augustus said. "She's such a battler for our team."
"It was so exciting," Bright said. "My first set was really tight, and I was up 5-2 in the second when I saw a good number of my teammates around my court. Jada said, 'Do it for us!' Personally, this was my favorite moment in college tennis. It was only my second clinching win ever. I'm so excited to have another crack at UCLA tomorrow and leave it all out there with the girls."
Bright, who boasts a Cal-best 17-3 singles record this season and has won 93 career singles matches for the Bears, previously clinched a win for Cal as a freshman on April 5, 2018, in a 7-0 rout of Sacramento State. Playing on court one, Bright beat Ana Loaiza Esquivias, 6-2, 6-2.
Pac-12 Championship Semifinal Round
 No. 20 California (15-6) defeated  No. 25 Stanford (14-4), 4-1
April 25, 2021, in San Diego
Barnes Tennis Center
1. Haley Giavara/Valentina Ivanov (Cal) def. Michaela Gordon/Niluka Madurawe (Stanford), 6-2
2. Anna Bright/Hannah Viller Moeller (Cal) def. Emily Arbuthnott/Angelica Blake (Stanford), 6-2*
3. Jada Bui/Erin Richardson (Cal) vs. Sara Choy/Emma Higuchi (Stanford), 4-4 Unfinished
Order of Finish – 1, 2*
*Clinched the doubles point
1. No. 62 Haley Giavara (Cal) def. No. 39 Michaela Gordon (Stanford), 6-2, 6-3
2. Valentina Ivanov (Cal) vs. Angelica Blake (Stanford), 6-2, 4-6, 2-3 Unfinished
3. Julia Rosenqvist (Cal) vs. Emily Arbuthnott (Stanford), 3-6, 6-0, 3-5 Unfinished
4. Jada Bui (Cal) def. Ana Geller (Stanford), 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
5. Sara Choy (Stanford) def. Hannah Viller Moeller (Cal), 6-2, 6-4
6. Anna Bright (Cal) def. Emma Higuchi (Stanford), 7-6(4), 6-2^
Order of Finish – 1, 5, 4, 6^
^Clinched the overall match