USTA Section: Northern California
Teddy Chung - Sophomore
Joel Garcia – Freshman
Stephanie Hui – Junior
Diane Ji - Freshman
Alex Kaiser – Junior
Katie Moore - Senior
Ahdiv Nathan – Freshman
Brandon Poon – Junior
Jack Sanford - Freshman
Sarah Weng – Junior
Teams Defeated: Stanford, UC Davis, Sacramento State
USTA.com: When did you discover that you had the talent to win as a team?
Consistently, Cal has always had a very strong club tennis team, but after the graduation of a lot of our veteran boys in the last couple years, it’s been a difficult two years. Yet as early as tryouts this year, we knew that we’d have a solid shot at taking home the Championship title again in 2012. As our team has played together and bonded over the last year, our time together has not only improved our game but also made the sport more enjoyable overall.
USTA.com: How does your team unwind after a day of matches?
Let’s just say that if we didn’t play tennis, our team might just take up professional eating as a new sport.
USTA.com: When you qualified, how did you celebrate?
As an extension of the last question, we gorged ourselves on In-and-Out Burger. Just some classic good food with good company.
USTA.com: Tell us a bit about how your school is unique.
I think our school is unique in that our efforts are very student initiated. We try to keep our team relatively small (for the amount of people that want to join) so that we can really get to know all of our members and they can feel welcome and a part of the team. We don’t have a coach and the captains are always very open to suggestions and improvements from team members.
USTA.com: If you were to list THREE specific things that need to happen in order to win a National Championship, they would be:
1) We need to improve our fitness and endurance
2) We need to focus more on match play
3) We need to help each other improve our weaknesses and not keep practicing our strengths
USTA.com: How do you exhibit school spirit?
We always do a team cheer before tournaments and make sure to represent Cal (aka the BEST university in the world) in a positive manner. We love playing tennis, but, more importantly, we love being Golden Bears!
USTA.com: Share with us a funny story about your team or team member(s).
Our school basically started the trend of break-time minicourt games at tournaments and practices. The game is simple: Two players are on each side and everyone gets three lives. If the ball lands in your service box, you are responsible for it. Volleys are acceptable, but you can’t hit hard and the loser is the first person who misses three times. The real beauty of this game lies is in the punishment: The remaining three players get to serve at the loser as the loser squats on the service line. While many players are familiar with this game with from their youth, our team has re-popularized it and taken it to another level. Plus, the threat of being served at by your 6’4", 200+ lb teammate is exponentially more terrifying than any serve the 12-year-old version of yourself could deliver! In the last two years, we’ve seen multiple other schools play the same game, both at Sectionals and Nationals. We love that other schools are joining in on the fun. The game keeps our team constantly bruised, but also allows us to work on our footwork, ball placement, and angled volleys.
USTA.com: Share with us an uplifting story about your team or team member(s).
At Sectionals this year, our team really wanted to reclaim the title of sectional champions after losing it to Stanford last year. We submitted three teams to sectionals, having high hopes for all three, but expecting a showdown between our "A" team and Stanford’s. Our "C" team, however, played magnificently that weekend with an especially strong performance by the mixed doubles team of Alex Kaiser and Diane Ji. They ended up winning two come-from-behind victories in overtime in both the quarterfinals and the semifinals of the tournament. They knocked out Stanford "A" in a grueling, heart-wrenching match in the semifinal round. Team C played tremendously and really displayed great teamwork and composure under great pressure. It was inspiring and we are so proud to be on a team with all of our players.