NCAA tennis: Cal women pass early test
URBANA — Anett Schutting had more to worry about before her Friday morning match against Alabama’s Mary Anne Macfarlane.
Like final exams.
The Golden Bears’ top singles player, who beat Macfarlane 6-3, 7-6 (1) to help Cal knock out the Crimson Tide 4-1, had to contend with two finals — sociology and women’s studies — on Thursday, finishing up her schoolwork about 5 p.m.
“They were all essays,” said Schutting, a native of Estonia and the eighth-ranked collegiate singles player. “I’ve been preparing the whole semester, so it wasn’t that hard, but of course it was the first time that we’ve been taking them during the tournament, so that was a little challenging. You have to study and get prepared before. It takes time, but I’m really glad to be over with it.”
California coach Amanda Augustus said seeing her players quiz each other and look through notes during rides to practice has become a common sight the past week. Schutting was one of six Cal players who had to take final exams Thursday.
“They’ve been stressed, and they do really well academically, so their school means just as much to them as their tennis,” she said. “It takes a lot of coordination. Fortunately the hotel helped us out with some board rooms to have a quiet place to take the exams.”
Some players had to take their exams at the same time their classmates were on the West Coast. The schedule was a bit chaotic, but the Golden Bears prepared for Friday’s round of 16 morning match by practicing in the morning.
“We were able to practice, go back and take an exam,” Augustus said. “There’s three different exam times back in Berkeley, so we’ve kind of had to stagger them. It’s been pretty busy.”
Now, though, Cal can focus on its Sunday quarterfinal match at noon against two-time defending champion Florida.
“They were probably a little bit tired (Friday), probably just from the relief of being done,” Augustus said. “We talked early on in the semester that this was a possibility, and they’ve been working with their professors. Because they’re good students, their professors were able to make alternative arrangements to do them. They can actually relax and enjoy their victory a little bit instead of going back every day and studying.”
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Duke saw its season end with a 4-0 loss to Florida in the morning session Friday. It wasn’t for lack of trying. Just a lack of athletes. In numbers only.
Because of injuries, the Blue Devils had to forfeit a singles and a doubles match. Of the five healthy players they had to compete, No. 5 singles player Nicole Lipp wasn’t even planning on playing tennis in college. A member of the Duke women’s soccer team, the Lake Forest native joined the tennis team prior to the season.
Click on Lipp’s bio on the Duke tennis website, and a recap of her soccer career pops up. She lost her match 6-1, 6-2, but the Blue Devils received props from Florida coach Roland Thornqvist.
“It’s a remarkable feat to get to the round of 16, and they gave us all we could handle on the courts,” he said. “They’re very competitive, and I appreciate what they did.”
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If the tennis went into the wee hours of Saturday at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex, the match between Pac-12 rivals Southern California and Stanford is the reason why.
The 12th-seeded Cardinal outlasted fifth-seeded USC 4-3 in a match that went five hours, ending at 6:40 p.m.
“It’s really sweet,” Stanford coach Lele Forood said. “We’ve fought some real battles with USC. They eliminated us from the tournament last year. They killed us at their place a little over a month ago. We were looking for payback.”
The match came down to No. 5 singles. When USC’s Gabriella DeSimone hit a backhand into the net, it allowed Ellen Tsay to earn a 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 victory. The victory, which was the last match to get done and had players on both teams watching in anticipation, was the seventh time Tsay had clinched a victory for the Cardinal this season. This one had a bit more meaning.
“This is the first one where I really felt like I clinched, because the other ones I feel like the other people on my team were up, and even if I had won my match, we still would have won,” Tsay said. “This is the biggest moment for me so far.”
The long match, which started 1 hour, 40 minutes after its scheduled noon start, pushed back the Northwestern-Miami match, slated to start at 4 p.m., to a 7:05 p.m. start. That, in turn, pushed back the UCLA-Michigan match, which was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
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Georgia sealed a 4-2 win against Clemson on Friday with a close two-set victory by 19th-ranked Maho Kowase in singles action. The Bulldogs became the first school to have both its men’s and women’s teams make it to quarterfinal action.
“It’s awesome,” Georgia coach Jeff Wallace said. “We’re both thrilled to be in the quarters and looking forward to more opportunities. We got to watch our guys play (Thursday), and our team did a good job helping them out, and (the guys) were out here (Friday). They did a great job of helping us out.”