With one weekend and the entire 2022 preseason in the books, the Pac-12 is already taking the form of a talented conference. With nine of 11 teams nationally ranked, every opponent on the Oregon schedule could prove dangerous. With each team having played at least nine matches so far, the sample size is more than adequate to deliver a Pac-12 preview on what to expect from the conference in 2022.
ARIZONA WILDCATS (No. 44) (9-3, 1-1 Pac-12): The Wildcats boast a great record, but their resume leaves something to be desired. Last year, Arizona finished 10th in the conference with a 2-8 record. This year, the Wildcats have been solid, but without a preseason ranked win (or any ranked players), they don’t pose a legitimate threat to take a conference championship back to Tucson.
ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS (No. 17) (8-3, 1-1 Pac-12): Arizona State looks to be a solid contender in the Pac-12 this season. The Sun Devils had a good run last season, making the national tournament and falling to eventual NCAA champion Texas. While not a heavy favorite in the conference, a No. 17 ranking is nothing to ignore. Patricija Spaka and Domenika Turkovic come in as the No. 49 ranked duo in the country and intend on causing havoc for Pac-12 opponents.
CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS (No. 10) (7-5, 1-0 Pac-12): The top ranked team in the Pac-12 enters the season looking to defend its tournament championship in 2021. The Golden Bears went as far as the third round in the national tournament and will look to continue as a tennis powerhouse in 2022. Cal is led by no. 48 Jessica Alsola who has been dominant in her singles matches and is also featured in the No. 45 duo in the country when she’s paired with Erin Richardson.
COLORADO BUFFALOES (Not ranked) (4-5, 0-2 Pac-12): The Buffs are likely going to be in the bottom tier of the Pac-12. They were bad in conference play last year (3-7) and don’t have any ranked players ready to make a splash in 2022. However, the Buffs had a hot start. They rode a four game winning streak into conference play and snatched a win against No. 79 ranked Iowa. But Colorado can be beaten –– and likely often will be.
OREGON DUCKS (No. 49) (8-4, 0-2 Pac-12): The Ducks have been flying high as of late, winning their last seven preseason matches and outsourcing opponents by a whopping 39-8 over the stretch. Freshman phenoms Sophie Luescher and Karin Young have led the recent surge for Oregon. The main worry for the Ducks should be youth. Their 8-4 record, while impressive, is similar to Utah’s in opponent strength. Stepping up from opponents like Idaho and Seattle to powerhouses like Cal and USC will be a great test for the Ducks and a tremendous opportunity for this young roster to prove themselves in the Pac-12.
OREGON STATE BEAVERS: The Beavers don’t have a women’s tennis team. No tennis fun to be had in Corvallis.
STANFORD CARDINAL (No. 25) (7-2, 1-0 Pac-12): The Cardinal went 8-2 in conference play last year and earned themselves a national tournament bid. They have three players ranked in the top 75 and pack a punch with the No. 21 ranked duo of Angelica Blake and Connie Ma. Stanford could be a team good enough to beat anyone and will be a tough squad to take down.
UCLA BROWN (No. 16) (6-3, 2-0 Pac-12): Last year’s Pac-12 regular season champion was absolutely dominant. The Bruins walked through the regular season, posted a 10-0 conference record and made the final eight in the national tournament. This year’s Bruins squad has just as much potential. Three ranked players and two top duos have brought UCLA to a hardfought 4-3 preseason record. The Bruins have already gotten their feet wet in conference play with three games against Pac-12 opponents. A couple tough losses to Washington and Pepperdine were outshined by wins against USC and Cal. While these games won’t count toward UCLA’s conference record, the Bruins already know they can compete (and dominate) in the Pac-12.
USC TROJANS (No. 21) (7-7, 1-1 Pac-12): Despite the 7-7 record, USC is not a team to overlook. This is a squad that made the second round of the NCAA tournament just a season ago. no. 5 ranked Eryn Cayetano and No. 36 Salma Ewig lead the charge for a Trojan team that boasts four ranked players and the top ranked duo in the conference (No. 19) in Ewig and Snow Han. The Trojans started hot, jumping out to an early 5-0 record. But losses to three top-10 teams (Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma) brought USC back to Earth. USC entered conference play on a five-game losing streak, but make no mistake, the Trojans are dangerous.
UTAH UTES (No. 27) (12-2, 1-1 Pac-12): As the only team rolling into conference play with double digit wins and only one loss, the Utes have turned some heads early in the season. Without even one ranked player or duo, the Utes’ successes have mainly come from one leading factor: schedule. Utah has played just one ranked opponent (No. 54 BYU) and hasn’t really seen the same caliber of competition needed to establish itself as a powerhouse in the Pac-12. The Utes finished dead last in 2021, going 0-10 in the Pac-12 and serving as a layup for the powerhouse teams. That being said, stats don’t lie, and clearly the Utes have something going right in Salt Lake.
WASHINGTON HUSKIES (No. 33) (11-4, 2-0 Pac-12): The Huskies are good. really good. Washington was mediocre last year, posting a 5-5 conference record, but all signs are pointing up for the Huskies. Riding into conference play at 9-4 and boasting some impressive preseason wins, Washington is flowing right now and really working well together. The Huskies are definitely a team to worry about, and they’ll be high on the Ducks’ list as Oregon hopes to avenge a 4-2 loss from 2021.
WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS(Not ranked) (4-8, 0-2 Pac-12): The only sub .500 team coming into conference play really isn’t a threat to anyone but themselves. A six-game losing streak that saw the Cougars only put up 8 points isn’t frightening to many in the Pac-12. They’re cold. They could heat up, but there isn’t much hope in Pullman this year.