Welp, there will be no repeat of the ITA Indoor national title for the California Golden Bears as they fell to 2nd seed North Carolina by a 4-2 score in a rematch of last year’s ITA Indoor title match.
Bears dropped the doubles point, losing in courts 1 and 3. Cal freshman Maria Smith then lost her court 6 match quickly to UNC’s Ouellet-Pizer. The Bears would not go away quietly however.
Grad transfer Maya Jansen and sophomore Olivia Hauger both won their singles matches. While Cal senior No.1 Maegan Manasse lost in straight sets to UNC’s Hayley Carter, her fellow senior Denise Starr fought off match point in the 2nd set to force a deciding 3rd set against Jessie Aney in court 3.
With both courts 2 and 3 going to a deciding 3rd set, UNC clinched a berth in Sunday’s semifinal via a win by Aney (Daavettila was also up a break on Popovic in court 2 in the deciding set).
Here is what’s going on in the semifinal of the 2017 ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship.
For completeness, here is how the 2017 ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship ended.
Bears played a consolation match against Oklahoma State Cowgirls on Sunday in a rematch of the NCAA semifinal (won by the more local OSU from Tulsa, OK) last year.
Unfortunately, there was no revenge for the Bears.
It will be the turn of Cal men’s tennis next weekend in Charlottesville, VA to win the men’s ITA Indoor. The 4th ranked Cal men have a better draw than the Cal women. Check back to CGB for our coverage of that meet next weekend.
As expected, the Golden Bears had virtually no issues in getting past Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Friday. The 7th seed Bears won the doubles point and proceed to win 3 singles matches (with a 4th win on the verge of finishing). Croatian junior Karla Popovic continues her splendid year to date, posting a 6-0, 6-0 victory. Bears also got singles victories from graduate transfer Maya Jansen and sophomore Olivia Hauger.
Also as expected, 2nd seed North Carolina had no problem beating host Yale (also by a 4-0 score). Golden Bears will take on the Tar Heels on Saturday in a rematch of last year’s thrilling ITA Indoor championships final when the Bears prevailed by a 4-3 result.
Although the start time has not been officially announced yet, I would presume that the The quarterfinal match will be start at the 9:30 AM PT time slot, same as Day 1 for both Cal and North Carolina.
The Tar Heels have 5 singles players currently ranked in the top 100.
No.1 singles: #5 Hayley Carter
No.2 singles: #2 Sara Daavettila
No.3 singles: #17 Jessie Aney
No.4 singles: #48 Alexa Graham
No.5 singles: #60 Makenna Jones
No.6 singles: Chloe Ouellet-Pizer
The three doubles pairing for UNC are not ranked.
No.1 doubles: Carter/Daavettila
No.2 doubles: Aney/Vazquez
No.3 doubles: James-Baker/Ouellet-Pizer
North Carolina won this national title back in 2015. In the 2016 championship final, UNC took the doubles point, but wins by Klara Fabikova (since graduated), Chi (also graduated), and Popovic (over Ouellet-Pizer at No.4 singles) put the championship on the shoulder of then freshman Olivia Hauger. Hauger won the decisive 3rd set by a 7-5 score to clinch the Bears’ first team national championship.
Out of the potential rematches, Hayeley Carter defeated Maegan Manasse and Jessie Aney defeated Denise Starr. The pair of Cal seniors will have the chance to avenge for their losses last year in this year’s quarterfinal.
ROLL ON YOU BEARS!
No.8 and 7th seed California Golden Bears are looking to defend the first team national championship in program history this weekend at the ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship from New Haven, CT. After an easy kickoff weekend from Berkeley two weeks ago when Golden Bears knocked out Xavier and then Missouri both by a 4-0 margin, Cal will face Georgia Tech on Friday at 9 AM PT before a potential 2016 ITA Indoor Championship rematch against the 2nd seed North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday.
Cal should have some familiarity with Georgia Tech as players from both teams participated in the season opening Tennis Hall of Fame tournament last fall from the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, RI.
A potential Sunday semifinal will likely see the Bears against an OSU - whether it is 6th seed Ohio State or 3rd seed Oklahoma State (who ended the Bears’ run in the NCAA team championship semifinal last year) remain to be determined.
All the way on the other side of the bracket is top ranked Florida Gators. The ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship final will take place on Monday.
7th seed Cal is one of 8 seeded teams to be competing in New Haven this weekend. The other seeded teams (and their seeds) are Florida (1), North Carolina (2), Oklahoma State (3), Pepperdine (4), Georgia (5), Ohio State (6), and Vanderbilt (8). The full draw is available through this link.
Last year, 4th seed Cal defeated host Wisconsin 4-0, Virginia 4-2, and then just edged Ohio State 4-3 and North Carolina 4-3 for the title.
An experienced Cal squad, consisting of mostly upperclassmen, will defend this title. The Cal lineup was revealed two weeks ago in the ITA Kickoff. Although the Bears’ top 10 matchup at Pepperdine originally scheduled for this past weekend was postponed, the Bears remain a perfect 3-0 on the season after dispatching San Diego State 7-0.
In Wednesday's #OracleITARankings, Karla is 20th & Maegan is 36th in singles; in doubles Karla/Olivia are 20th & Maegan/Maya are 49th— Cal Women's Tennis (@CalWomensTennis) February 8, 2017
This is the expected Cal lineup:
Doubles 1: Maya Jansen (GRD) and Maegan Manasse (SR)
Doubles 2: Olivia Hauger (SOPH) and Karla Popovic (JR)
Doubles 3: Denise Starr (SR) and Alexis Nelson (FR)
Maya Jansen is a grad transfer from Alabama. The former 2x NCAA Doubles champion has paired up with Cal’s top player in Maegan Manasse to form the new No.1 pair; they are ranked 49th in the country. Cal’s No.2 pair of Hauger and Popovic is actually ranked 20th in the country. Manasse’s former partner Starr is now pairing with a freshman as the new No.3 pair.
Singles 1: Maegan Manasse (SR)
Singles 2: Karla Popovic (JR)
Singles 3: Denise Starr (SR)
Singles 4: Olivia Hauger (SOPH)
Singles 5: Maya Jansen (GRD)
Singles 6: Maria Smith (FR)
Other than freshman Maria Smith, the rest of the Cal lineup is very seasoned. After a strong fall campaign, the highest ranked Cal Bears is actually Karla Popovic (20th) who is playing as the No.2. Former top ranked collegiate player Maegan Manasse (36th currently) will continue to hold on to the top spot. Golden Bears have had several years of great success due to the depth of the lineup. Expect similar strength for the 2017 squad.
Certainly, the NCAA team national championship is the ultimate prize and goal of the season, nevertheless, the ITA national championship has historically been important (predates the existence of the NCAA championship). The similarity in format also makes this tournament a big confidence boost comes the NCAA in May. Since CalBears.com is counting the 2016 title as one of 95 Cal all time Team National Championships, let’s hope that number can grow by one by the end of Monday.
FloTennis ($20 for a month subscription) will stream this entire championships.
Check back on this post throughout the weekend to track how far the Golden Bears have progressed in their national title defense. The latest news will be added on the top of the post.