GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The return of Riki McLachlan was one of the highlights of 18th-ranked California's 4-1 win over No. 33 Florida State in the first round of the NCAA Championships on Friday at the University of Florida's at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. The Golden Bears won the doubles point, and then junior Campbell Johnson's court-three singles win clinched the team victory. Cal will play Denver in Saturday's second round, slated for a 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT start.
McLachlan, who played court-six singles, had not played for the Bears since suffering a leg injury in a Feb. 8 match at USC.
"Winning the doubles point was key for us again today," Cal head coach Peter Wright said. "It gave us a lot of momentum going into the singles. Biggest story for us was the return of senior team captain Riki McLachlan, who won his first set before Campbell Johnson clinched it for us. It was over 90 degrees out there, but our guys looked strong. Florida State battled back and almost turned the match toward the end, but Gregory Bayane and Campbell Johnson served extremely well and held on for the victory, finishing about two minutes apart."
In doubles, the 26th-ranked Cal team of senior Christoffer Konigsfeldt and junior Campbell Johnson battled the 14th-ranked tandem of Dominic Cotrone and Blake Davis on court one, but the Bears fell, 8-4. The 65th-ranked Cal team of junior Ben McLachlan and freshman Mads Engsted tied matters with an 8-5 win over Anderson Reed and Jordan Kelly-Houston on court two. The Bears clinched the doubles point when sophomores Gregory Bayane and Chase Melton held off FSU's 78th-ranked team of Andres Bucaro and Michael Rinaldi, 8-6, on court three.
Engsted improved Cal's lead to 2-0 when he opened singles with a 6-4, 6-1, win over Christian Gonzales-Mendez on court five. The Seminoles claimed their first point of the day when the 92nd-ranked Cotrone topped the 38th-ranked Ben McLachlan, 7-5, 6-3, on court one to make the team score 2-1.
But Cal continued its control of the match, as Bayane dispatched Anderson Reed, 6-3, 6-3, on court four and then Johnson - ranked 60th - beat Kelly-Houston, 6-0, 6-4, to secure the match for the Bears.
After Cal beat FSU, Denver upset host, 15th-seeded and 15th-ranked Florida, 4-3, to advance to meet the Bears on Saturday.