Cal Women's Tennis earns 16th seed, will host 1st two rounds in Berkeley this Fri/Sat

The Pac-12 champs will open NCAA play vs. San Jose State on Friday. The winner will play the winner between Kentucky/Syracuse on Saturday.

As a reward for winning their first Pac-12 tournament in program history (granted, the format was only changed in 2017), No.13 (by the Tennis Channel/USTA Top 25 poll) Cal Women’s Tennis was announced as the national 16th seed when the 64-team NCAA Women’s Tennis Championship field was announced on Monday. Cal is the only seeded Pac-12 team outside 4th-seed UCLA, who the Golden Bears defeated in the Pac-12 tournament final. Fellow Pac-12 schools Stanford, USC, and Arizona State also made the tournament. The full bracket can be found here.

As a seeded team, Cal (17-6) will host the first two rounds of play this weekend. Cal will open against San Jose State (15-1) on Friday at 1 PM PT. The winner is set to face the winner between Kentucky (15-8) and Syracuse (8-11) on Saturday at 1 PM PT. Cal will likely stream the action from the Hellmann Tennis Complex for the entire weekend.

The final 16 teams will play at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida. Cal is on a collision course with top-overall seed North Carolina in the Sweet Sixteen round.

By earning a national seed, Cal avoided having to travel for the first two rounds of play or having to face a tough opponent like No.5 Pepperdine who defeated the Bears twice in 2021, including the Bears’ lone home loss of the season. Pepperdine also ended Cal’s 2019 season in the second round from Malibu. Stanford will have to get through Pepperdine to make it to Orlando.

Earning a seed now will also help the 2021-22 Cal Bears when the ITA Kick-off weekends start next January. Typically, the same seeded teams will get to host the first two rounds of that tournament. Cal got eliminated in the first round this year because they drew a very tough UCLA team in the opening round. The lone “national championship” won by the Cal Women’s Tennis program came from the ITA Indoor Tennis championship back in 2016, when the Bears won 4-3 over North Carolina. Senior Julia Rosenqvist has already announced that she will return to Cal next year, since all student-athlete gained an extra year of eligibility this season. A long postseason run over the next couple of weeks will be a great experience for the next school year.

In a rather atypical occurrence, Cal Women’s Tennis will most likely be the lone Cal team to make the postseason amongst the several NCAA championships announced last and this week. The NCAA men’s golf field will not be announced until this Thursday but that is unlikely to include Cal as a team. Cal Men’s Tennis had its season cut short by COVID back in January. Cal Women’s Water Polo lost a pivotal first-round MPSF Tournament match to Arizona State on Friday and lost the last at-large bid to the Sun Devils as the result. Cal Beach Volleyball’s two losses to Stanford (who had a better resume than the Bears coming into the Pac-12 tournament) also resulted in Stanford grabbing one of the last available at-large bid. Cal Women’s Golf also had an atypical down year in the shortened season, not playing at full strength until the very end of the season.

Luckily for Cal Women’s Tennis, they were able to seize the opportunity to play this year and be healthy for the bulk of the season. Cal was able to thrive with a lineup that has both experiences (seniors Julia Rosenqvist and Anna Bright) blended with youth (sophomores Haley Giavara and Valentina Ivanov at the top of the singles lineup and freshmen Jada Bui and Hannah Viller Moeller). Giavara and Ivanov got to experience some collegiate tennis in their freshman fall season in 2019 but this was their first full experience of the unique team dual format. The Bears survived the gauntlet that was the Pac-12 tournament with a couple of gritty wins over Stanford and UCLA. If they can replicate and sustain that, they could be a dark horse contender for the 2021 NCAA Women’s Tennis championship.