CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Playing against one of the nation’s top programs – which knocked out California in the same round last year – with the overall contest tied at 3-3 and a berth to the semifinals on the line, freshman Maegan Manasse didn’t flinch. The nation’s 31st-ranked singles player, Manasse defeated Mia King, 7-6(5), 6-3, to clinch sixth-seeded Cal’s 4-3 victory over third-seeded Georgia in Saturday’s quarterfinal at the ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championships.
The eighth-ranked Golden Bears (5-0 record) will play seventh-seeded and 10th-ranked Duke (6-0) in Sunday’s semi at the Boar’s Head Tennis Club.
“As a freshman that was Maegan’s first time to be in a three-all situation with the entire match coming down to her, and she just thrived,” Cal head coach Amanda Augustus said. “That’s why she’s good fit on the team – she’s a competitor and loves representing Cal. She just got better and better as the match went on, as her teammates and everyone were cheering her on. You never know - for some people that pressure is really hard, but for Maegan it was great, and she really closed out that match strongly. It was really remarkable, considering she had never done it before.”
Cal’s triumph avenges a 4-1 loss to Georgia in last year’s ITA indoor quarterfinals.
In this year’s clash with the fourth-ranked Bulldogs, Georgia took a 1-0 lead after winning the doubles point. First Cal sophomores Lynn Chi and Klara Fabikova fell to Lilly Kimbell/Caroline Brinson, 6-3, on court three, and then Manasse and senior Anett Schutting lost to the fifth-ranked Bulldog pair of Lauren Herring and Maho Kowase, 7-5, on court one to end doubles.
“It was a good match,” Augustus said of the court-one battle. “On all three courts we could’ve gotten off to a better start in doubles, but we really rallied. On court one, they made some good adjustments and really got right back in the match. They had some opportunities, but it was a well-played match. It was very close; that match could’ve gone either way.”
On court two, Cal freshman Denise Starr and senior Kelly Chui trailed Silvia Garcia/Kate Fuller, 5-4, when it was abandoned.
“At two they also had a slow start but worked their way back into the match,” Augustus said. “It was very competitive doubles point. Today like yesterday our players did a good job of shrugging it off and focusing on their singles matches.”
In singles, Cal trailed 2-0 after the 95th-ranked Chi lost to the 25th-ranked Kowase on court three, 6-3, 6-2.
But the Bears bounced back for the second time in two days after dropping the doubles point. On Saturday, junior Zsofi Susanyi – ranked 16th in singles – began the comeback with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over the 33rd-ranked Kimbell on court four. Starr – Cal’s top-ranked singles player at No. 15 – then tied the overall match at 2-2 with a 6-3, 4-6, 1-0(7) win over the 10th-ranked Garcia on court two.
Fabikova continued the Cal surge with a tight, 7-5, 7-5, win over Fuller on court five. But Schutting – ranked 26th – fell to the fourth-ranked Herring, 7-6(3), 6-1, on court one to tie the match at 3-3 and leave Manasse and King to decide matters on court six.
“It was quite the battle and a fun match,” Augustus added.