Cal Poly rallies to secure spot in Regionals

By Michael Zavala

The women’s tennis team is back where it belongs after getting
much closer to clinching a playoff spot with two conference
victories last week.

Cal Poly (7-9, 5-2) defeated Sonoma State on the road Friday,
5-4. The victory came three days after the Broncos beat Cal State
L.A. in their final home game of the season, 5-4.

“Our last two matches have been 5-4 wins with different players
stepping up,” said head coach Sandy Kriezel. “We’re real happy to
be in the position we’re in right now.”

The wins guaranteed at least a second-place finish in the
California Collegiate Athletic Association for the Broncos. They
are a game up on Cal State L.A. and own the tiebreaker because they
swept the season series with the Golden Eagles.

The teams chosen to compete in Regionals are not named until the
final week of April, but the Broncos’ strong conference record
basically assures them a postseason spot, according to Kriezel.

Friday, Sonoma State was seeking to avenge its loss to Cal Poly
March 7, and the Broncos needed top performances to hold off the
Seawolves.

The Broncos were down early after losing two of three doubles
matches, though the two losses were hotly contested.

Senior Jenny Tsai and freshman Jennifer Chow lost to Stephanie
Luk and Casey O’Conner in an intense match that went to a
tiebreaker, 9-8 (7-5). The No. 2 team of sophomore Kara Fisher and
freshman Fallon Blattner defeated Dana Carollo and Jeanette Peck in
a tough match, 9-7. Freshman Kaitlin Wooldridge and junior Jessica
Winkler lost the final match to Mary Bulich and Haley Hickock,
8-6.

Cal Poly rallied back in a big way during its singles matches,
however.

“We needed to win three of four matches at the end, but we had
some players step up and get those wins,” said Kriezel.

The Broncos took two losses when Tsai lost to Luk in the No. 1
match, 6-4, 6-2 and Chow was defeated by Carollo, 3-6, 6-3,
6-4.

But three Cal Poly singles victories tied the score. Sophomore
Mallory Brady won by default against Bulich; Wooldridge defeated
Hickock in the No. 5 match, 6-4, 6-4; and freshman Michelle Stock
won against Peck, 7-6, 6-3.

That set the stage for Winkler, who played her toughest and most
important match of the season at No. 2 singles against O’Conner,
who beat her in their first match earlier this season.

Winkler rose to the occasion with a superb comeback victory
against O’Conner, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.

“Jessica played the best match of the season for her,” said
Kriezel.

Cal Poly set itself up to clinch a playoff spot with its victory
against Cal State L.A. Tuesday. Because it was the final home match
of the season, Tsai and fellow senior Ellyn Caprara were honored
before the match for their four-year careers at Cal Poly.

Coming off a tough 9-0 loss to Hawaii Pacific last Monday,
Kriezel wasn’t certain the Broncos would bounce back.”You always
second guess yourself as a coach after you play a Hawaii Pacific
and get beat 9-0,” said Kriezel. “How are they going to respond?
Some teams I’ve had in the past get kind of knocked down.

“This team rises up. This team does not like to lose.”The
Broncos showed that aversion to losing by taking two of three
doubles matches against the Golden Eagles.

The No. 1 team of Tsai and Chow defeated Krishana De Silva and
Jennifer Avila, 8-3. In the No. 2 match, Fisher and Blattner were
defeated by Ioana Comsa and Bojana Ducanovic, 8-5.

Wooldridge and Winkler then won against Isis Jackson and
Princess Manasseh, 8-6.

Cal Poly needed to at least split the six singles matches to
take home the win, and it did just that.

In the No. 1 match, Tsai lost to Comsa, 6-0, 6-2. Winkler was
defeated by De Silva in the No. 2 match, 6-2, 6-1. Stock lost to
Avila in the No. 6 match, 6-3, 6-3.

But the Broncos rang off three wins in the middle of the order
to secure the victory.

Brady defeated Linda Majzlikova in the No. 3 match, 6-0, 6-0.
Chow won against Ducanovic in the No. 4 match, 6-1, 6-0, and
Wooldridge beat Jackson in the No. 5 match, 6-2, 6-3.

Although the Broncos have now clinched a playoff spot, that does
not mean Kriezel expects them to take it easy. They still have
tough challenges ahead to face, which they will meet head on.

“We’re the underdogs, but I like being in that position,” said
Kriezel. “This team feels like they have a chance, and that’s half
the battle. I like playing when there’s nothing to lose.”

Cal Poly returns to the court for its final game of the regular
season on the road Wednesday against UC San Diego.

Cal Poly rallies to secure spot in Regionals

Diva Rescia/Poly Post

Cal Poly rallies to secure spot in Regionals

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