Jan. 26, 2013
BERKELEY - With No. 14 Cal trailing No. 20 Michigan, 3-2, in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend championship, team captains Christoffer Konigsfeldt and Riki McLachlan won three-set matches to spur the Golden Bears to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Wolverines on Saturday at the Hellman Tennis Complex. The win earned Cal a berth in next month's ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship and improved the Bears' record to 2-0. Michigan is 2-1.
This marks Cal's second straight visit to the indoor championships, which are slated for Feb. 15-18 in Seattle.
Cal entered singles leading 1-0 after winning the doubles point. But the Bears quickly fell in a hole when the Wolverines won the first set in five of the six singles matches. Gregory Bayane was the exception, as the Cal sophomore beat Shaun Bernstein, 6-3, 6-1, on court four in the first completed match.
Konigsfeldt, playing on court two, had perhaps the most dramatic singles match of the day. Down one set and trailing 4-1 in the second to Michigan's 48th-ranked Vlad Stefan - and with Cal down, 3-2 - the 42nd-ranked Cal senior rebounded to win the second-set tiebreaker and force a third set. On match point, Stefan fired into the net to clinch the win for the inspired Konigsfeldt, who claimed a 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 victory.
Now tied at 3-3, the championship rested on the McLachlan/Michael Zhu result from court five. As with Konigsfeldt, McLachlan lost his first set but won a second-set tiebreaker. The Cal senior wound up winning by the same score - 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 - as Konigsfeldt and punched the Bears' tickets to Seattle.
"For all intents and purposes, Chris was gone," Cal head coach Peter Wright said. "But he somehow found a gear to get himself back in. I have to give credit to our two team captains - Chris and Riki - and they were the last two guys out there playing for us. They both lost first sets and they both came back to win in three in extremely exciting fashion. They showed a lot of heart and soul and the guts of this team. That's one of the reasons they're team captains, because those are the kinds of performances that they can turn in. We still found a way to win that match."
Campbell Johnson came close to pulling off another three-set win, dropping the first set to Michigan's Alex Petrone, 6-2, and then tying the match with a 6-1, second-set win on court three. But the gutsy Cal junior fell in the third set, 7-5.
Cal had won the doubles point when Bayane and Konigsfeldt defeated Petrone and Zhu, 8-4, on court three after Johnson and Engsted topped Stefan/Franks, 8-3, on court two. The seventh-ranked brothers McLachlan were in a 6-6 struggle with King/Bernstein on court one when the match was abandoned.
"You have to tip your cap to Michigan," Wright added. "Those guys are really good, and they're going to have a great year. But right now, I think our guys just had a great performance; just stunningly impressive at the critical junctures of the match."
Earlier at Hellman, No. 35 Santa Clara (3-1) beat No. 38 Boise State, 4-1, in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend consolation match. Boise State's record now stands at 2-2.
Cal returns to action when it hosts Pacific on Feb. 2 at 10 a.m. at the Hellman Tennis Complex.
No. 14 Cal 4, No. 20 Michigan 3
No. 35 Santa Clara 4, No. 38 Boise State 1