Golden State Stars Alsola, Thiel Join Cal Women’s Tennis
BERKELEY – Jessica Alsola and Makenna Thiel – a pair of talented incoming freshmen from the Golden State – will bolster the defending Pac-12 champion Cal women's tennis team when they join the Golden Bears for the 2021-22 season.
Tennis Recruiting Network tabbed Alsola as high as third in its national rankings, and she is the site's top recruit from the state of California. Tennis Recruiting rated Thiel as the 29th top national recruit and No. 7 from the Golden State.
"We're pleased to add Jessica and Makenna to the team for this upcoming season," Cal head coach Amanda Augustus said. "We feel that they're both great fits academically and athletically to the program. We're looking forward to hopefully having an entire year of competition, academics and team camaradie."
Born in the Philippines, Alsola moved with her family to Ontario, Canada, as a child before they finally settled in Fresno, California. She garnered top rankings as a junior in Canada – she was ranked seventh in doubles and eighth in singles at the under-14 level and fourth in singles as a U-12 player.
In singles over the past year, she won singles titles at a Las Vegas Women's $25K tournament in May, an Atlanta $25K tournament in March and a Newport Beach $25K event in January. In Newport Beach, Alsola defeated Katie Volynets, who's been ranked as high as 183rd in the WTA poll, on her way to the title. In the Atlanta tournament, Alsola knocked off Sophie Chang, who's been ranked as high as 136th by the WTA, and Savannah Broadus, who has a career-best ITF junior combined ranking of 26th, en route to the crown.
Thiel, born in Berkeley, is a product of nearby Piedmont in the East Bay. The 18-year-old's mother, Pamela Lee, competed for the Cal women's swimming & diving team, and her sister, Kaelli Theil, played tennis for Harvard (2016-17).
In 2018, Makenna Thiel won the North Coast Section doubles title in 2018, and the following year she captured the Northern California Junior Sectional singles championship and also reached the doubles final at junior sectionals. In 2021, she won the West Alameda Coast Conference singles championship. The Piedmont High School captain as a senior in 2020-21, Thiel posted a 29-1 record at No. 1 singles.
The newest Bears join a team coming off another standout season, on the courts and in the classroom. The Bears were named an ITA All-Academic Team for 2021, with six individual Bears colleting ITA Scholar-Athlete status, while in October, Cal garnered the Newmark Award as the women's "small team" with the top grade-point average for the 2019-20 season.
Cal captured the program's first Pac- tournament championship in April and reached the round of 16 in the NCAA team tournament, after which Haley Giavara and Valentina Ivanov competed in the NCAA individual championships.
"With pretty much the entire Pac-12 championship squad returning, we're excited to continue the journey with this team and try to bring more championships to Cal," Augustus added.
Augustus' team will next hit the courts when the Bears host their annual Cal Fall Invitational from Sept. 24-26 at the Hellman Tennis Complex and the Channing Tennis Courts.