BERKELEY – With the 2014 Pac-12 team title safely tucked away, fourth-ranked California enters the Pac-12 Championships this week in search of individual crowns. While the 32-player singles tournament and 16-team doubles tournament begin on Wednesday in Ojai, Calif., the Golden Bears will open play at the conference event on Thursday. The conference championships – which do not include a head-to-head team competition – end on Sunday.
Pac-12 action will be held in conjunction with the 114th Annual Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament as well as the Pac-12 Men’s Tennis Championship, which is a team competition. The first two rounds of Pac-12 women’s action will take place at the Ojai Valley Athletic Club, and then the rest of conference play – the semifinals and finals – will take place at Libbey Park.
The Pac-12 Networks will broadcast the singles final live on all seven networks and online via Pac-12 Now at 10 a.m. and show the doubles final delayed at 7 p.m. on Sunday. The Pac-12 Networks will air the men’s final delayed on Sunday at 5 p.m., just prior to the women’s doubles title match broadcast.
In the main draws at last season’s Pac-12 Championships, Anett Schutting got the farthest in singles, falling in the semifinal round, while Schutting and Lynn Chi advanced the farthest of any Cal doubles team, also falling in the semifinals. Cecilia Estlander and former Bear Annie Goransson lost in the final of the doubles invitational, and alumna Tayler Davis reached the singles invitational semis but had to withdraw due to injury.
Schutting Named Pac-12 Player of the Week and Muscle Milk Honoree
Cal senior Anett Schutting claimed the Pac-12 Player of the Week honor for her contributions in the Golden Bears’ two big wins last week, the conference announced on Tuesday. This is the second honor of the week for the Golden Bear, who is also the Muscle Milk Student Athlete of the Week. The Cal star collected the accolades after posting singles and doubles wins in both the 7-0 rout of Sacramento State and the 6-1 Pac-12-clinching victory at Stanford.
Against the Cardinal on April 19, the then-70th-ranked Schutting and Lynn Chi clinched the doubles point with an upset of ninth-ranked Kristie Ahn/Carol Zhao, 8-6, on court one. In singles, then-ranked 23rd, Schutting upset the 19th-ranked Zhao, 6-3, 7-6(2), on court three to give Cal a 3-1 lead.
On April 17 against Sacramento State – in her last home match of the regular season – Schutting and Chi won their doubles match, 8-3, against, Olivia Boija/Sophie Lohscheidt, as the Bears captured the doubles point. Schutting also beat Boija, 6-3, 6-1, in singles to clinch the overall match.
Cal claimed its highest ranking of the season when it moved up six spots to No. 4 in Tuesday’s ITA team poll. There are six Golden Bears ranked in singles – including four in the top 40 – and four Cal teams ranked in doubles (see below). Nine Pac-12 teams are ranked this week: No. 1 UCLA, No. 4 Cal, No. 9 Stanford, No. 13 USC, No. 23 Arizona, No. 24 Arizona State, No. 38 Utah, No. 39 Washington and No. 49 Washington State.
Scouting the Bears
Senior Anett Schutting (24-10) –who has a 10-match unbeaten streak – has the Bears’ top singles ranking at 19th
Freshman Maegan Manasse (28-5) – who has an 11-match unbeaten streak – is ranked 60th
Ranked 85th, sophomore Klara Fabikova – the April 1 Pac-12 Player of the Week – has a record of 29-9
The undefeated pair of Manasse and Starr (10-0) is ranked 36th in doubles
The tandem of Chi and Schutting (12-6) made a big jump from No. 70 last week to No. 42 this week
The duo of Schutting and Manasse (10-5) is ranked 48th in doubles
Starr and Kelly Chui (4-4) are ranked 70th in doubles
Former NCAA doubles champion and All-American Amanda Augustus is in her seventh season as head coach at her alma mater
Associate head coach Cordell Ho, another Cal alum, is in his 17th season on the Cal women’s staff
Jan Brogan, who retired in 2007 after serving 29 years as the Golden Bears’ head coach, is Cal’s volunteer assistant coach
Scouting the Rest of the Field
The 2013 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, UCLA’s Kyle McPhillips – currently ranked 34th – is back to defend her conference singles championship
USC’s 25th-ranked Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria are back for a run at a third consecutive doubles titles; Christian is a senior, and Santamaria – the 2013 Pac-12 Athlete of the Year – is a junior
UCLA has a strong contender in singles in second-ranked Robin Anderson; 11th-ranked Jennifer Brady and 13th-ranked Chanelle Van Nguyen could also vie for the title
UCLA also has major challengers in doubles in top-ranked Anderson/Brady and No. 7 McPhillips/Catherine Harrison
In doubles, USC has two higher-ranked teams than Christian/Santamaria in eighth-ranked Zoë Scandalis/Giuliana Olmos and 19th-ranked Brynn Boren/Zoë Katz
Stanford has singles contenders including third-ranked Kristie Ahn, 23rd-ranked Carol Zhao and 54th-ranked Krista Hardebeck, who lost to McPhillips in the 2013 final
The Cardinal’s ninth-ranked duo of Ahn/ Zhao – which lost to Cal’s Chi and Schutting on April 19 at Stanford – is another doubles contender
Last Time: Bears Beat Stanford to Win First Pac-12 Championship
Tenth-ranked California celebrated a litany of firsts on April 19 at Stanford’s Taube Family Tennis Stadium, where the Golden Bears upset the fifth-ranked Cardinal, 6-1, in the regular-season finale for their 12th consecutive dual-match victory. The Bears captured their first Pac-12 Conference championship, locked up their first Pac-12 automatic berth into the NCAA team tournament and won at Stanford for the first time in 15 years with their win in the 2014 Big Slam.
Cal finishes the conference season with a perfect 10-0 Pac-12 record (18-4 overall). Stanford ends the regular season with a 16-2 overall record and 8-2 conference mark.
The last time Cal won at Stanford was in 1999, when head coach Amanda Augustus was a senior star who clinched that victory in doubles (doubles was played last back then) and when volunteer assistant coach Jan Brogan was the Bears' head coach.
This marks the Bears’ second Pac-10/12 conference title in a fashion, as they won the Pac-10 South division title in 1987, when Washington won the Pac-10 North division and no single champion was crowned. The 2014 title is also Cal’s first outright conference championship since it won seven NorPac titles under Brogan.
This also marked just the fifth loss at home for Stanford since 1999, including the Cardinal’s 4-3 loss to UCLA this season on April 4.
Heading into the match, Cal’s attempt to produce all these firsts was a formidable one considering Stanford’s dominance at home coupled with the Cardinal’s victory over Cal earlier this season, 5-2, on March 8 in Berkeley. Stanford was the last team to beat Cal before the Bears started their current winning streak.
But these Bears were up to the task.
The Cal pair of senior Kelly Chui and sophomore Klara Fabikova started things off with an 8-3 win over Caroline Doyle/Krista Hardebeck on court three. The 70th-ranked Bears’ pair of senior Anett Schutting and sophomore Lynn Chi then clinched the doubles point with a big upset of ninth-ranked Kristie Ahn/Carol Zhao, 8-6, on court one. The court-two match between the 35th-ranked freshman tandem of Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr and the 37th-ranked Cardinal team of Taylor Davidson/Ellen Tsay was abandoned.
In singles, Stanford tied the overall match at 1-1 when fourth-ranked Ahn topped the 32nd-ranked Starr, 6-3, 6-2. But that result produced Stanford’s only point on the day.
Fabikova followed with a 6-3, 6-1 upset of the 41st-ranked Tsay, 6-3, 6-1, on court five, and the 23rd-ranked Schutting upset the 19th-ranked Zhao, 6-3, 7-6(2), on court three to give Cal a 3-1 lead. The Cardinal was no slouch, winning three of six first sets, including on court six. But on court six, Manasse, ranked 67th, came back to win and clinch the overall win at 4-1 when she beat the 39th-ranked Doyle, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Chi, ranked, 28th, added another three-set win on court four, on which she beat the 34th-ranked Davidson, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4. Junior Zsofi Susanyi – Cal’s highest-ranked player at No. 21 – then ended the match when she posted a 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 victory over the 44th-ranked Hardebeck, giving the Bears their 6-1 win.
Cal will find out who it will play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on April 29.