BERKELEY – Lynn Chi won a third-set tiebreaker to bring 12th-ranked California all the way back from 3-1 down to No. 3 UCLA and lead the Golden Bears to a 4-3 win over the Bruins on Saturday at the Hellman Tennis Complex. The win left Cal with sole possession of the lead in the Pac-12 Conference with a 7-0 record (14-4 overall), as every other Pac-12 team has at least one conference loss. UCLA’s record is now 18-2 and 6-1 in the Pac-12.
Chi – a sophomore ranked 43rd in singles – had trailed No. 40 Kyle McPhillips 5-2 in the third set before forcing the tiebreaker and ultimately emerging victorious, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5).
Cal displayed its fighting spirit when it pushed the Bruins in doubles before ultimately falling.
On court one, the 60th-ranked Cal duo of Chi and senior Anett Schutting fell, 8-6, to the top-ranked tandem of Robin Anderson and Jennifer Brady. Freshmen Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr then upset the fifth-ranked UCLA team of McPhillips/Catherine Harrison, 8-6, on court two. On court three, the Cal pair of senior Kelly Chui and sophomore Klara Fabikova trailed Courtney Dolehide/Chanelle Van Nguyen, 7-2, before battling back to make the score 7-6. The Bruins eventually won, 8-6, to take the doubles point.
Schutting, ranked 30th in singles, beat the 11th-ranked Van Nguyen, 6-3, 6-2, on court three to even the overall match at 1-1. The Cal senior is now 2-0 on court three this season, including a win in Friday’s match against USC.
But UCLA posted victories on courts two and one to take a 3-1 lead. On court two, Cal junior Zsofi Susanyi – ranked 14th – fell to No. 16 Brady, 6-1, 6-3. The 29th-ranked Starr – who was impressive in winning the first set over the fourth-ranked Anderson – then lost to the Bruin junior, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2, on court one.
At that point, Cal trailed on the remaining three courts, with Chi about to lose the second set to McPhillips on four, Fabikova behind in the third set against No 55 Harrison and the 78th-ranked Manasse trailing Ray in their third set.
But the feisty Manasse came up big time and again to eventually defeat Ray, 3-6, 6-0, 6-4, on court six to make the overall score 3-2. Fabikova followed with a 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(8) win over Harrison to tie the match at 3-3. With both teams gathered around court four, Chi rebounded from her 5-2, third-set deficit to tie the set at 5-5. McPhillips went up 6-5 before Chi rallied again to force the tiebreaker and then clinch the match.
When was she thinking when she was down 5-2?
“Maegan had just won, and Klara, I think, was up in the set, and I just thought to myself, You can’t let this go,” Chi said. “It was a close match overall, and I told myself, ‘You’ve got to keep fighting,’ and, ‘You can do this.’ I just dug deep, and I was able to find something today.”
When Fabikova tied the overall match at 3-3, Chi said she thought, “If Klara can do it, I can do it, too. She’s my classmate, same year, and I thought if she fought that hard for me, I can fight that hard for her.”
“It was really amazing that she was able to come back and do it for the team,” Schutting said of Chi. “We were at a point when everyone in the last three courts were down, and I think it was really amazing that they were all able to fight no matter what the score was. I am really, really proud of her. It’s an amazing result.”
Cal hits the road for a pair of conference matches in the Pacific Northwest, as the Bears play at No. 48 Washington State on April 11 and at Oregon on April 13.