Junior Haley Giavara, Cal’s No. 1 singles player, is aware that the Bears’ round-of-16 NCAA women’s tennis tournament match on Saturday at North Carolina State may be pushed indoors because rain is forecast. And it raises a concern.
“Concerns what jacket I will wear,” she said with one of her many giggles.
Otherwise she’s fine with it. Giavara is not one to worry too much about circumstances.
“I don’t look at the draw, I don’t look at who I’m playing,” she said.
Sixth-ranked North Carolina State, like virtually every American college, has hardcourts. But is the surface fast or slow?
“I have no idea,” she said. “I’m thinking more about the weather.”
Indeed thunder storms are forecast for the Raleigh, NC, area on both Friday and Saturday, so Saturday’s match, which is called a Super Regional, is likely to be played on the Wolfpack’s indoor courts.
“I know we can adapt to indoors,” Giavara said.
The Bears have adapted to a lot this season. They have an 18-7 record and are ranked 11th in the country after winning the Pac-12 regular-season title and losing to Arizona State in the semifinals of the conference tournament. That’s a particularly impressive achievement and ranking considering Giavara is Cal’s highest-ranked singles player at No. 63 in the country. Giavara explains that the relatively low singles rankings resulted because several Cal players, including herself, did not play during the fall, when computer ranking points can be accumulated. But typically a team ranked as high as 11th has several players ranked in the top 50.
Cal will be an underdog on Saturday and probably will be an underdog in any subsequent matches as the Bears seek their first women’s NCAA team tennis title. Two Bears have won national titles in singles (Susie Babos in 2006 and Jana Juricova in 2011), five Cal pairs have won NCAA doubles crowns, and twice Cal reached the finals of the team competition, in 2008 and 2009. But the Bears have never won it all as a team.
Giavara is the only Cal player who will participate in the 64-player singles competition, which, like the final three rounds of the team competition, will take place at the University of Illinois after the team event is completed.
She is from San Diego and knew quickly Cal was the place for her.
“Something just felt right,” she said. “I compare it to like what I assume is like trying on a wedding dress. When you know, you know. You try on so many, but that one, you know you know. “
Giavara has played No. 1 singles for Cal each of the past three years, and she will be pivotal in the match against North Carolina State, in both singles and doubles. She is certainly in better shape physically than she was last year when Cal lost to Kentucky in the round of 16 of the NCAA tournament. That’s because she played the three Pac-12 tournament matches and two NCAA matches with a stress fracture in her hip in 2021. Doctors told her that as soon as the 2021 NCAA tournament was completed in mid-May she would not be able to play tennis for a prolonged period. Nonetheless, she won two of her singles matches and three of her doubles matches while dealing with the stress reaction.
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“Adrenaline did wonders, what can I say,” Giavara said, again giggling.
Giavara did not get back on the court until August. That three-month absence from the court as well as the layoff necessitated by COVID-19 the previous year probably didn’t help Giavara’s game di lei, but it may have aided her attitude di lei.
“If anything it made me more driven, because right now I’m so obsessed with tennis,” she said. “I just want to play every match all the time. I don’t want to take breaks. “
Technically, she has two more years of college eligibility, but after returning to Cal next year to get her degree she plans to go on the pro tour on a fulltime basis.
But the immediate goal is to get past North Carolina State.
“I know they’re strong; I know they’re gritty, ”she said. “I think it’s a challenge and I think we’re going to be ready for it.”
You can bet she will have the appropriate jacket.
Giavara discusses head coach Amanda Augustus, a two-time NCAA doubles champion while playing at Cal:
Cover photo of Haley Giavara by Robert Edwards, KLC fotos
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