MALIBU, Calif. – The No. 16 Golden Bears rebounded after trailing No. 33 Alabama early in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend at Pepperdine, and California wound up defeating the Crimson Tide, 4-2, on Friday at the Waves’ Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center. Cal (2-0) will take on Pepperdine (2-0) at 1 p.m. on Saturday for the right to advance to the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championships.
Alabama (3-1) will play No. 41 San Diego (0-1), a 4-1 loser to the Waves on Friday, in a consolation match at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Pepperdine.
Cal opened the competition by taking the first doubles match of the day, as sophomores Gregory Bayane and Chase Melton beat Alabama’s Sean Donohue and Becker O’Shaughnessy, 6-3. But Cal lost the other two matches and the doubles point: Seniors Campbell Johnson and Ben McLachlan fell to Nikko Madregallejo/Daniil Proskura, 6-4, on court one and sophomore Mads Engsted/freshman Filip Bergevi lost to Andrew Goodwin/Stuart Kenyon, 6-4, on court three.
Alabama took a 1-0 lead into singles.
While Bayane tied the overall match at 1-1 with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Stuart Kenyon on court five, Alabama retook the lead at 2-1 when O’Shaughnessey, ranked No. 51 in singles, beat Cal’s 74th-ranked Johnson, 6-4, 6-4, on court two.
Cal then won three consecutive matches to beat Alabama.
Playing court one singles, McLachlan started the comeback when he outlasted No. 14 Proskura, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, to push Cal into a 2-2 tie. A pair of freshmen then put the match away for the Bears. First Bergevi defeated Madregallejo in another three-set match, 4-6, 6-5, 6-3, on court three, and then No. 85 Goransson held off Saxon Buehning, 6-4, 4-6, 6-5(7-3), on court four to give Cal the 4-2 victory.
“You have to give Alabama a lot of credit for jumping on us early,” Cal head coach Peter Wright said. “Our guys showed a lot of resilience and heart out there today. In singles, our freshmen contributed two points that added to key wins by Gregory Bayane and Ben McLachlan. We’re going to have to do a better job in the doubles tomorrow.”
The teams are playing in an experimental format, which includes playing doubles matches to six games, tiebreakers at 5-all and no-ad scoring. All the matches are played under the "clinch-clinch" format and with no warm-up against opponents.
Wright added, “This experimental format is fast paced and exciting for the players and fans, but it makes things tougher for the coach’s heart!”
The Bears now move onto play the host Waves. The two West Coast powers last met in the regular season last spring, when Cal fell to Pepperdine, 4-3, in Berkeley.
ITA Kick-Off Weekend
Jan. 24 in Malibu, Calif.
Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center
No. 16 Cal (2-0) def. No. 33 Alabama (3-1), 4-2
Alabama captured the doubles point.
Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3.
1. Ben McLachlan (CAL) def. #14 Daniil Proskura (UA) 6-4, 2-6, 6-4
2. #51 B. O'Shaughnessey (UA) def. #74 Campbell Johnson (CAL) 6-4, 6-4
3. Filip Bergevi (CAL) def. Nikko Madregallejo (UA) 4-6, 6-5, 6-3
4. #85 Andre Goransson (CAL) def. Saxon Buehning (UA) 6-4, 4-6, 6-5 (7-3)
5. Gregory Bayane (CAL) def. Stuart Kenyon (UA) 6-3, 6-2
6. Nikhil Jayashankar (CAL) vs. Andrew Goodwin (UA) 6-2, 5-6, 3-3, unfinished
Order of Finish: 5, 2, 1, 3, 4.