As the rally progressed, Miami’s sixth-ranked Stephanie Wagner gave a loose return, and 16th-ranked Cal senior Klara Fabikova, sensing an opportunity, advanced and unleashed a strong forehand across the court. Wagner had no chance of getting to it, sealing the win for Fabikova.
Among the five Cal players who participated in two tournaments over the weekend, the senior was the only player who brought silverware back home. Sophomores Karla Popovic and Lyann Hoang plied their trade at the Battle in the Bay Classic in San Francisco, while Fabikova and juniors Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr were featured in the inaugural Oracle/ITA Masters in Malibu.
No. 64 Popovic had a great first day in San Francisco, as she decimated her opponent, the Don’s Shanna Dos Santos, 6-2, 6-1, to advance to the quarterfinals. Popovic played some aggressive tennis, and her constant attacking strokes paved the way for her entry into the quarterfinals. Popovic’s doubles partner, Hoang, also reached the quarters: Her opponent, USC’s Alex Letzt, withdrew because of illness.
Popovic’s run in the tournament ended abruptly, however, as she was upset by Pepperdine’s Laura Gulbe in straight sets. The final score read, 7-6 (2), 6-2, in favor of Gulbe. Hoang, too, was unsuccessful in her bid to advance in the tournament, as she was ousted by USF’s No. 91 Andrea Ka in a match marked by inconsistency from both players. Ka defeated Hoang in three sets, 2-6, 6-0, 6-1. Popovic and Hoang also exited early in the doubles, as they were defeated by USF’s Hanna Borjeson and Genevieve McCloskey in a tight encounter.
“Both of them gave an admirable performance,” said Cal head coach Amanda Augustus. “We’ve got some doubles to work on. The girls played in different events over the summer, so they did not get much of doubles practice. We’ll definitely work on our doubles strategies and tactics for the coming tournaments.”
In Malibu, No. 4 Manasse started the tournament strongly, as she edged past Baylor’s No. 53 Kiah Generette, 7-5, 6-4, to advance to the quarterfinals. Manasse’s court coverage and net play were the key factors in achieving the win. She then advanced to the semifinals of the singles draw after defeating Pepperdine’s Luisa Stefani, 7-5, 6-2. But Manasse fell short in her effort to reach the finals, as Virginia’s No. 8 Danielle Collins defeated her in a close contest that lasted three sets.
The doubles pairing of Manasse and Starr notched a 6-1, 6-0 win over Miami’s Sinead Lohan and Stephanie Wagner in the quarterfinals, but they ultimately lost in the doubles semifinals to the Wildcats’ No. 9 pairing of Mami Adachi and Aldila Sutjiadi.
Fabikova, who lost her opening match at the tournament, proceeded to win the consolation bracket. She first upset Vanderbilt’s No. 7 Sydney Campbell in the quarterfinals and then defeated Mississippi State’s No. 23 Jasmine Lee to advance to the final two.
Fabikova featured in her third straight tournament final, including last season’s Pac-12 singles finals and NCAA doubles finals. Her third final proved to be lucky, as she made quick work of Wagner and defeated her, 6-2, 6-3. Fabikova’s hard strokes and effective baseline play were the foundations for her good run at the tournament, and her added variety of slices proved to be the X-factor in the finals.
“I played smart at this tournament,” Fabikova said. “My forehand was pretty good, and I think I used my slices and drop shots to great effect throughout the tournament.”
The Bears will now be hosting the Cal Nike Invitational at Berkeley, and these two tournaments seemed to have prepped them well for the coming matches. The players got to experience playing different kinds of opponents, which will serve them well in learning more about their own strengths and weaknesses.
“The players had a good weekend overall,” Augustus said. “It was a little earlier than we normally kick off the season, but it was a good way to start with the matches. The team will see a lot of players they faced here at the All-American championships, so it was good for the team to see how they were doing and how the competitors are doing.”
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