BERKELEY -Denise Starr wrapped up California's 4- 0 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round of the NCAA Championship with a court-one singles win on Friday at the Hellman Tennis Complex. The sixth-seeded and sixth-ranked Golden Bears advance to play 24th-ranked Pepperdine in the NCAA second round on Saturday at noon.
The Pac-12 champion improved its record to 19-4 after beating FDU, the NEC champion, which ended its season with a 13-5 record.
Pepperdine – the WCC champ – also improved to 19-4 after the Waves dispatched No. 40 LSU (14-14), 4-0, earlier on Friday at Hellman.
“I thought we adjusted well and we competed hard, and that was our goal,” Cal head coach Amanda Augustus said. “FDU had a great season to get here, but we played a little bit better than they did today. We’re happy to walk away with the win. It’s good to get back out on the courts again as well, since we had a weekend without any matches last week. It’s just kind of nice to shake a little bit of rust off and play against a team we weren’t familiar with at all.”
Starr, a freshman ranked 30th in singles, defeated the Knight's Ksenija Tihomirova, 6-1, 6-1, to end the overall match.
All three Bears who recorded singles wins were underclassmen, including sophomore Lynn Chi and freshman Maegan Manasse. Chi, ranked 24th, completed the first match, beating Gisela Castany, 6-1, 6-1, on court four. Manasse, ranked 62nd, followed with a 6-1, 6-2 triumph over Mariya Krachok on court five, before her doubles partner, Starr, secured the overall match.
This marked the first collegiate postseason for Starr and Manasse.
“With freshmen you never know how they’re going to respond even though they have a lot of results behind them this season,” Augustus said. “They did a really great job. We’ve been working on their doubles this past week, and they got off to a good start even though they didn’t get to finish their match. I think that will help them tomorrow. They’re really excited at the experience and everything that goes with it.”
Earlier in doubles, the 41st-ranked Cal team of Chi and senior Anett Schutting quickly bested Fairleigh Dickinson’s Tihomirova/Castany, 8-1. The 83rd-ranked Bear pair of sophomore Klara Fabikova and junior Zsofi Susanyi then beat Shreya Pasricha/Manuel Leme, 8-0, to captured the doubles point. The court-two match between the duo of Manasse and Starr, ranked 47th in doubles, and the FDU team of Krachok/Nicole Chis went unfinished with the Bears leading 5-1.
Susanyi played both doubles and singles in a match for the first time since Jan. 25, and today marked the first time she played doubles with Fabikova since Oct. 2.
“Zsofi did great,” Augustus said. “Obviously it’s been something we’ve been building towards, and she’s really been day-to-day much of the season. She’s worked very hard in the training room to get ready, so credit to the training room staff for moving her along and getting her out on the court to play both. I thought she had fun. I think she’s wanted to play both for a while now. Good to see her get some experience today, and it creates a lot of options for us going forward.”
The match – which took about two hours to finish – was one of Cal’s shortest home contests of the season.
The Pepperdine/LSU match ended after roughly three hours, when Matea Cutura beat the Tigers’ Noel Scott in singles, 6-3, 6-3, on court two.