Less than a month ago, Cal Poly women’s tennis head coach Hugh Bream switched his doubles teams in a move designed to boost a group that had opened with an inauspicious 4-5 record.
Since, the Mustangs have won seven of eight matches, given up only two points in their last four wins and are undefeated in the Big West Conference.
“We just felt like there was another gear that we weren’t able to find even after five or six months of practice,” Bream said. “So we switched up our teams and I feel like it’s really given us a spark.”
The latest victory came Sunday when Cal Poly (10-6, 6-0) handed visiting Pacific a 6-1 Big West loss.
“I think that really helped us,” Cal Poly senior Sheila Lewis said of switching doubles teams. “We’re just getting along really well as a team and trying to maintain some good play.”
Lewis, who along with Samantha Waller was honored in Senior Day ceremonies before the match, won 6-4, 6-4 at singles over Helen Schneider.
Waller lost 6-3, 5-7, 10-5 to Natalia Kostenko in three sets that lasted more than two hours.
“I knew that would be a great battle because Samantha’s a great player,” Pacific head coach Bob Chiene said. “She’s always on top of her game.”
Cal Poly junior Carol Erickson won 6-1, 6-2 to improve her team-leading record to 17-8.
“This is a confidence booster for us,” Erickson said. “It’s a conference match, which is huge. This is what we work and train for.”
The Mustangs got two more singles points from Danon Beatty (6-4, 3-6, 10-3) and Maria Malec (6-1, 6-3).
In doubles, Cal Poly’s Amanda Varela and Shannon Brady took a 5-0 lead and won 8-5 while Lewis and Beatty could not recover from a 4-1 deficit in an 8-3 loss.
Pacific (9-9, 2-4) was playing without its Nos. 1 and 3 singles players, Vana Mrazovic and Jolanta Twarowska.
“We’re not very deep, so I knew it was going to be a struggle,” Chiene said.
Coming off a 7-0 loss March 26 at top-ranked Stanford, the Mustangs routed visiting UC Riverside 7-0 Saturday. The Stanford loss was their first since a 4-3 defeat Feb. 28 at the hands of Furman University.
Cal Poly visits Fresno State at 12:30 p.m. Thursday and UC Irvine at 11 a.m. Sunday. The Mustangs then host No. 20 Long Beach State at 1:30 p.m. April 14.
“Long Beach State is a huge match,” Erickson said of the Mustangs’ fifth top-20 opponent this season. “We’re really looking forward to that.”
Cal Poly will be at the Big West Championships April 27-30 in Indian Wells before the NCAA Regional Championships begin May 12.
“They’re great,” Bream said of his team’s postseason prospects. “We’re one of the teams capable of winning the Big West.”
Erickson, who has won nine of her last 10 at singles, agreed.
“I think we’re going to do really well in the Big West,” she said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun for us.”