BERKELEY – Sixth-seeded California rides a 14-match winning streak into the NCAA Championship round of 16 in Athens, Georgia, where the Pac-12 champion and sixth-ranked Golden Bears (20-4) will take on defending NCAA champion and 11th-ranked Stanford (18-2) on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. PT/1:30 p.m. ET or later. Cal has reached the round of 16 for the eighth straight season, and this year's contest will serve as the rubber match for the season series between the rivals, who each won on the other’s home court this year.
The Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens is the site of most of the remainder of the NCAA team tournament – with matches May 15-20 – as well as the site of the NCAA singles and doubles championships, which are scheduled for May 21-26. The University of Georgia is the host.
The Cardinal was the last team to beat the Bears and was the only opponent to beat Cal in Berkeley – 5-2 in a nonconference match on March 8 at the Channing Tennis Courts. Among Cal’s 14 wins since March 8 was a 6-1 victory over the Cardinal on April 19 at Stanford in the regular-season finale to clinch the Bears’ first outright conference title with a perfect 10-0 Pac-12 record.
The Bears reached this point in the postseason by blanking Fairleigh Dickinson, 4-0, in the May 9 NCAA first round and No. 24 Pepperdine, 4-0, in the May 10 second round at home at the Hellman Tennis Complex.
Cal was one of six Pac-12 teams to earn a spot in the NCAA field, including fifth-seeded and third-ranked UCLA, 11th-seeded Stanford, 16th-seeded and 15th-ranked USC, 25th-ranked Arizona State and 27th-ranked Arizona. Four of the conference teams are still competing in the tournament; both Arizona schools lost in the first round.
A Pac-12 team has reached the final of the NCAA Championship in 29 of the 32 previous tournaments, including all seven times that NCAAs were played in Georgia. Cal’s best team finish in NCAAs was second in both the 2008 and 2009 tournaments.
Emblematic of its depth and success this season, sixth-ranked Cal placed four Golden Bears in the NCAA singles championship field. Senior Anett Schutting, junior Zsofi Susanyi, sophomore Lynn Chi and freshman Denise Starr all earned at-large invitations to the 64-player tournament. Additionally, the NCAA announced that Maegan Manasse is a singles alternate and the pair of Schutting and Chi is an alternate for the 32-team NCAA doubles tournament.
All matches shall be the best-of-three sets. Regular scoring and a 12-point tiebreaker at six- games-all will be used for all matches.
This is the third consecutive year that Schutting and Susanyi have received NCAA singles invitations. In the 2012 tournament, Susanyi, as a freshman, reached the semifinals, while Schutting fell in the round of 64. Last season, Schutting – as the eighth seed – suffered an upset in the opening round, while Susanyi advanced to the round of 16.
Schutting is one of eight players designated as Nos. 9-16 seeds in this year’s singles tournament. She brings a record of 27-11 into the postseason. Schutting reached the singles semifinals of the Pac-12 Championships’ main draw. Ranked 23rd, Susanyi has compiled a 24-9 singles record.
Starr, who plays No. 1 singles for the Bears, has a singles mark of 21-10 and a ranking of 30th. She reached the quarterfinals of the singles main draw at Pac-12s. Chi has a No. 24 national ranking and a 33-9 singles record. Like her doubles partner, Chi reached the singles championship’s semis at the conference tournament. The 41st-ranked team of Schutting and Chi – which currently has a 16-7 record – also advanced to the doubles championship semifinal round at Pac-12s and is fifth on the list of NCAA alternates.
Manasse also needs some luck to get into NCAA singles, as she is the third alternate in that tournament. The freshman is ranked 62nd in singles and has a 33-6 record heading into the postseason. She reached the semifinals of the singles invitational at Pac-12s, falling to teammate Klara Fabikova.
Scouting the Bears
Senior Anett Schutting (27-11 record) has Cal’s top singles ranking at 18th
Freshman Maegan Manasse (33-6) is ranked 62nd; she also added two wins in Cal’s recent NCAA postseason victories
Ranked 87th, sophomore Klara Fabikova – the April 1 Pac-12 Player of the Week – has a record of 33-10, including a win in Cal’s second-round victory over Pepperdine
The tandem of Chi and Schutting (16-7) is ranked No. 41 this week; the Bears won both their matches in Cal’s recent NCAA tournament wins
The pair of Manasse and Starr (11-1) is ranked 47th in doubles; the freshmen picked up a win against Pepperdine
The duo of Schutting and Manasse (10-5) is ranked 52nd in doubles
Starr and Kelly Chui (4-4) are ranked 70th in doubles
Fabikova and Susanyi (5-2) are ranked 83rd in doubles; the pair played for the first time since Oct. 2 and won its match in Cal’s NCAA first-round victory against FDU
The tandem of senior Kelly Chui and Fabikova has a 7-1 record
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 Cardinal
Stanford has won 17 of the 32 NCAA team championships
The Cardinal beat Quinnipiac, 4-0, in the NCAA first round and Long Beach State, 4-0, in the second round at Stanford, giving the Cardinal a two-match winning streak heading into Thursday
Stanford (8-2 conference record) finished third in the Pac-12 behind champion Cal (10-0) and second-place UCLA (9-1)
The Cardinal has six players ranked in singles and two teams ranked in doubles in the latest ITA polls
In singles, senior Kristie Ahn is ranked third, freshman Carol Zhao is ranked 21st, freshman Taylor Davidson is No. 50, sophomore Krista Hardebeck is ranked 51st, junior Ellen Tsay is No. 54 and freshman Caroline Doyle is ranked 57th
The pair of Ahn/Zhao is ranked 10th and the duo of Tsay/Davidson is ranked 50th in doubles
Lele Forood is in her 14th season as head coach at Stanford
Bears Sweep Knights, Waves to Reach Round of 16
Cal swept Fairleigh Dickinson and No. 24 Pepperdine, 4-0, in the NCAA first and second rounds, respectively, at the Hellman Tennis Complex. The Golden Bears took roughly two hours to dispatch the Knights in the postseason opener, which included the return of Zsofi Susanyi to doubles for the first time since Jan. 25. The Waves also beat No. 21 LSU, 4-1, in the first round at Hellman.
The next day at Hellman, Cal won the doubles point against Pepperdine to take a 1-0 lead into singles. The Waves won first sets on courts one and two in singles and forced a first-set tiebreaker on court three, but the Bears on courts four, five and six won to clinch the match.
Last Year in the NCAA Team Tournament
Eighth-seeded California ended its run for the team title at the 2013 NCAA Championships when it dropped a 4-2 quarterfinal result to top-seeded Florida on May 19 at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex in Urbana, Ill. The Golden Bears trailed 3-2 in the waning moments of the match, with 70th-ranked freshman Lynn Chi leading the Gators' No. 89 Brianna Morgan (Florida) on court four, 0-6, 6-1, 4-1. But that match became moot when Cal senior Annie Goransson fell to 116th-ranked Caroline Hitimana, 6-3, 6-2, on court six to wrap up the contest.
The Bears ended their team season with a 19-6 record, while Florida improved to 26-2.
Last Year in NCAA Singles
Under a sunny, Midwest sky, the season ended for Zsofi Susanyi and California, as the sophomore lost to Clemson’s Yana Koroleva, 7-5, 7-6(6), in the 2013 NCAA Women’s Tennis Singles Championship round of 16 on May 24 at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex/Atkins Tennis Center.
The fifth-ranked and fifth-seeded Golden Bear had won five consecutive matches before her run in with the Tigers’ Koroleva, who is ranked 16th by the ITA and seeded 9-16 at NCAA singles. Susanyi ends her sophomore season as an All-American in singles. She is now a two-time All-American, including in 2012, when Susanyi reached the semifinals of the NCAA Singles Championship.
Also in NCAA singles, Klara Fabikova reached the round of 32, while Anett Schutting – seeded and ranked eighth – fell in an upset in the round of 64.