BERKELEY – The Big Slam – the annual rivalry matches between California and Stanford in women’s (and men’s) tennis – came down to the play of four freshmen on Saturday at the Channing Tennis Courts.
No. 16 Cal’s Denise Starr and Maegan Manasse battled, respectively, Carol Zhao and Caroline Doyle for the chance to give the Golden Bears a victory. Down 3-2, Cal needed both to win by a score of 4-3. But Zhao prevailed in three sets to beat Starr 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-4 and clinch the match at 4-2, and then Manasse fell to Doyle in three sets, 6-2, 0-6, 7-6(8), for the final 5-2 score.
After the nonconference match, the Bears’ record fell to 6-4, while Stanford remained unbeaten at 8-0.
Cal trailed 1-0 entering singles after dropping the doubles point. The Bears led off with a victory on court three, as senior Alice Duranteau and sophomore Lynn Chi beat Krista Hardebeck/Caroline Doyle, 8-2. But Stanford won on court one – No. 14 Kristie Ahn/Carol Zhao defeated Manasse and senior Anett Schutting, 8-6 – and then on court two – No. 37 Taylor Davidson/Ellen Tsay (Stanford) beat Cal’s No. 39th-ranked team of Starr and senior Kelly Chui, 8-4 – to clinch the doubles point.
Bear junior Zsofi Susanyi – ranked 14th in singles – tied the overall match at 1-1 when she beat the 39th-ranked Hardebeck, 6-2, 6-2, on court two. Stanford retook the lead at 2-1 when the fifth-ranked Ahn topped the 26th-ranked Schutting, 6-3, 6-3, on court one.
Cal trailed 3-1 when sophomore Klara Fabikova lost to the Cardinal’s 35th-ranked Tsay, 6-4, 6-3, on court five. But the 43rd-ranked Chi’s 7-5, 6-3 win over the 21st-ranked Davidson on court four pulled Cal to within one of Stanford at 3-2 and set up the finish by the freshmen.
“It was a really hard-fought match between two great teams,” Cal head coach Amanda Augustus said. “That’s why the Big Slam is always as exciting as it is. It was just two great rivals going at each other in singles and doubles. Although we didn’t come away with a victory today, I think we had just great matches on every court and really were able to push them right to the very end.”
The Bears open up Pac-12 Conference play when they host No. 28 Washington on March 15.