California Golden Bears Claim First-Ever #ITAIndoors Title
MADISON, WI – The No. 6 nationally-ranked California women’s tennis team made school history on Monday afternoon at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin, as they captured the program’s first-ever ITA Division I National Women’s Team Indoors Championship title with a thrilling 4-3 victory over No. 5 North Carolina.
Cal, the lone Pac-12 team at the tournament, has made only one previous National Team Indoors final appearance, which took place in 2000. The Bears dropped the match to Stanford, 8-0.
Defending champion UNC got off to a hot start in doubles play as Jessie Aney and Kate Vialle swiftly posted a 6-1 win over Cal’s Klara Fabikova and Olivia Hauger in the No. 2 position. The Bears hung around in the remaining two matches, but the Tar Heels still went on to claim the point after Ashley Dai and Chloe Oulette-Pitzer defeated Maria Smith and Lynn Chi, 6-4, in the No. 3 spot.
The No. 1 doubles match-up was a repeat of the 2015 Riviera/ITA All-American doubles championship, as No. 2 Hayley Carter and Whitney Kay of UNC took on Cal’s No. 3 nationally-ranked duo of Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr. Carter and Kay, the 2015 USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor champions, led 5-4 over the All-American doubles champs from Cal when the match was called.
Despite dropping the doubles point, the Bears responded well in singles play.
Tenth-ranked Fabikova put the Bears on the board with her 6-2, 7-5 over No. 88 Kay in the No. 2 position.
No. 6-ranked Carter replied with a decisive 6-2, 6-2 victory over (No. 5) Manasse in the No. 1 spot to put the Tar Heels back on top momentarily, but the Bears came back with wins in the No. 3 and No. 6 positions putting the score at 3-2.
Chi defeated UNC’s Vialle 6-3, 7-5 in No. 4 singles while Karla Popovic took out No. 112 Oulette-Pitzer 6-1, 6-3 in the No. 6 spot. Both Popovic and Oulette-Pitzer clinched their team’s semifinal victories on Sunday.
No. 68-ranked freshman Aney kept the match interesting for the Tar Heels, after rallying from 0-3 first set deficit against Starr to take the match 7-6 (1), 6-4 to put the score at 3-3.
Everything came down to the No. 5 singles match-up between No. 81 Olivia Hauger of Cal and Marika Akkerman of UNC. The two opponents split sets forcing the title to be decided by a third set battle.
After some thrilling teetering back and forth, Hauger eventually pulled ahead to clinch the match 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 and earn the victory for the Golden Bears
Cal, now 5-0 on the season, defeated host Wisconsin, No. 7 Virginia, and No. 16 Ohio State en route to the championship showdown with North Carolina, who was searching for its third #ITAIndoors title in the last four years.