Cal Opens With USC At Pac-12 Championship
BERKELEY – The seventh-seeded and 45th-ranked California men's tennis team starts play in the Pac-12 Championship on Thursday, when the Golden Bears take on second-seeded and 15th-ranked USC at 3 p.m. at Libbey Park in Ojai. The tournament concludes with Saturday's final, with the champion earning the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship in May.
Cal finished the regular season with an 11-9 overall record and a 2-6 Pac-12 mark, while USC was 7-1 in the conference and has an 18-5 record. The Bears battled the Trojans twice during the regular season, dropping hard-fought 4-2 matches (see below).
Live scores will be available for every Pac-12 tournament match in Ojai by clicking here, and the Pac-12 Networks will televise the final.
Last Time: Cal Ends Regular Season With Big Slam Loss
Last Saturday started off well for No. 45 Cal, with the Golden Bears celebrating Sean Hill before his last regular-season home match and then winning the doubles point against No. 16 Stanford. But the Bears wound up with a 4-1 loss in the Big Slam at the Hellman Tennis Complex.
In doubles, Hill – a graduate student who'll complete a certificate in entrepreneurship this spring – partnered with Lucas Magnaudet to defeat Alexandre Rotsaert and Sangeet Sridhar, 6-3, on court three. The Bears clinched the point when the 42nd-ranked Yuta Kikuchi and Philip Hjorth edged Stanford's 64th-ranked Axel Geller and Tomas Kopczynski, 7-6(4).
Down 1-0, the Cardinal won four times in singles – with Rotsaert beating Carl Emil Overbeck, 6-2, 7-6(5) on court four to wrap up a 4-1 result against the Bears.
Cal is ranked 45th in the latest ITA team poll, with new rankings coming out on Wednesday. The Bears have two individual rankings, with Yuta Kikuchi (20-15 record) at No. 66 in singles and the pair of Kikuchi and Carl Emil Overbeck (16-9) at No. 42 in doubles.
- Yuta Kikuchi was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week on March 15 after clinching a pair of 5-2 wins over Santa Clara and, in the Bears' Pac-12 opener, No. 22 Utah
- Kikuchi defeated Arthur Neuhas, 6-4, 6-1, on March 11 to clinch against the Broncos and beat Franco Capalbo, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1, to secure the victory over Utah
- Kikuchi also beat Athell Bennett, 6-4, 6-4, to clinch Cal's 5-2 win over Purdue on March 16 in Berkeley
- Carl Emil Overbeck – with a 24-11 singles record – leads the Bears with the most singles victories
- Overbeck clinched Cal's 6-1, March 20 win over No. 56 Cal Poly, beating Colter Smith, 6-3, 6-0
- In the fall, Overbeck won the consolation final of the ITA Northwest Regional Championships, beating Utah's Ryan Ali, 6-2, 7-5
- Kris Kwinta (UCLA '08) is in his first season as the Peter Wright Director of Men's Tennis
- Kwinta's first-year staff includes assistant coach and former BYU player Francis Sargeant along with volunteer assistant coach and former professional player Jared Donaldson
- Kwinta and Sargeant won the consolation bracket of the Pacific Coast Men's Doubles Championship, beating Bears Sean Hill and Lucas Magnaudet in the final of the open tournament on March 6 in La Jolla
Scouting the Trojans
- USC is on a seven-match winning streak
- In their last two matches, the Trojans beat No. 22 San Diego, 4-0, on April 13, in Los Angeles and defeated No. 32 Utah, 4-1, on April 15 in Salt Lake City
- Three Trojans are ranked in singles in No. 4 Stefan Dostanic, No. 49 Peter Makk and No. 99 Lodewijk Westrate
- The doubles pair of Dostanic and Bradley Frye is ranked 12th
- Former Bear Paul Barretto is a graduate student-athlete for the Trojans
- Brett Masi is in his third season as USC's head coach
This Season Against USC
Cal won the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead over the Trojans in the teams' nonconference match on Feb. 6 in Berkeley. First, the pair of Sean Hill and Lucas Magnaudet beat Ryder Jackson and Paul Barretto, 6-2, on court two. Then Cal's 15th-ranked duo of Yuta Kikuchi and Carl Emil Overbeck clinched the point with a 6-2 win over the 10th-ranked Stefan Dostanic and Bradley Frye on court one.
In singles, Hill edged the 70th-ranked Frye, 7-6(4), 7-5, and later with USC leading Cal, 3-2, Kikuchi held a 6-0, 4-6, 5-4 lead over the sixth-ranked Dostanic. But USC wrapped up its 4-2 win on court five, when 40th-ranked Lodewijk Westrate beat Derrick Chen, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
The conference match between the teams on March 26 in Los Angeles was another close contest at the end, which featured five tiebreaks, and Cal was a match point away from tying the Trojans at 3-3.
Down 3-0, Chen began the Bears' comeback, beating the 73rd-ranked Westrate, 7-6(6), 6-3, on court five. Carl Emil Overbeck followed with a 7-6(5), 7-6(7) triumph over USC's Ryan Colby on court four, and Cal trailed 3-2.
Over on court six, Lucas Magnaudet was close to defeating former Cal teammate Paul Barretto, as the current Bear had match point at 1-6, 7-6(4), 5-3 (40-30). A Magnaudet win would have made the score 3-3. But the court-two match ended first – with Cal senior Philip Hjorth losing to the 116th-ranked Frye, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(7) – giving USC the 4-2 win. The court-six match was abandoned.
Goransson Wins Battle Of Cal Alums To Reach Davis Cup
Cal alumnus Andre Goransson qualified for the Davis Cup finals with Sweden on March 5, when his team defeated Japan and former Cal teammate Ben McLachlan, 3-2, in Helsingborg, Sweden.
"It was amazing to do it at home," Goransson said. "It was unlike anything I'd ever done in terms of the atmosphere and the excitement."
Goransson paired with Elias Ymer to beat McLachlan and Yasutaka Uchiyama, 2-6, 7-6(9), 7-5, in a doubles match that took two hours and 40 minutes. Sweden clinched the victory over Japan when Ymer beat Yosuke Watanaki in singles, 6-3, 6-3.
"It was great playing him and sharing a court with Ben," Goransson said. "He's a great friend of mine. It was fun given that we played together here at Cal, and to play Davis Cup against each other, we were both excited to do that.
McLachlan – currently ranked 34th in the world in doubles – and Goransson – who's ranked 69th in doubles – partnered in doubles while at Cal in the 2013-24 season, when McLachlan was a senior and Goransson was a freshman.
The United States also qualified for the Davis Cup finals on March 5 when the U.S. beat Colombia, 4-0, in Reno, Nevada. The U.S. team features former Cal volunteer assistant coach Rajeev Ram, who's ranked fourth in doubles. Ram paired with Jack Sock to clinch the victory when they beat Colombia's Nicolas Barrientos and Juan-Sebastian Cabal, 6-3, 6-4.
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