No. 21 Men's Tennis Heads to Pac-10 Championships with 3rd Place Finish
April 23, 2001
UCLA SQUEAKS BY CAL: The No. 21-ranked Cal men's tennis team (14-8, 4-3 Pac-10) fell one point shy of a victory over No. 1-ranked UCLA, April 22, at the Hellman Tennis Courts, losing to the Bruins, 4-3. At No. 1 doubles, John Paul Fruttero and Robert Kowalczyk were only down 5-4 midway through the match, yet could not hold on as UCLA's Jean Noel Grinda and Jean Julien Rojer took the 8-4 victory. Early in the match at No. 2, Scott Kintz and Erik Dmytruk held a 3-2 lead, yet faltered as the duo lost 8-4 to UCLA. Losing the doubles point, the Bears regrouped and fought with UCLA for every point in singles. Ben Miles was the first to fall, as Miles lost to Lassi Ketola, 6-3, 6-0. The Bears did not count themselves out just yet, as Scott Kintz put Cal on the scoreboard at No. 3, turning in a straight set victory (6-3, 6-3) over Tobias Clemens. Erik Dmytruk could not get things rolling at No. 6, as UCLA's Travis Rettenmaier took a hard-fought 6-4, 6-4 victory. UCLA then claimed the victory at No. 3, where Erfan Djahangiri defeated Robert Kowalczyk, 7-6, 7-5. With the loss at hand and UCLA holding a 4-1 lead, the Bears turned their attention to the top two courts as Balazs Veress and John Paul Fruttero were not going to count themselves out of the match. Veress, who had been struggling as of late, took UCLA's Jean Noel Grinda in straight sets, 7-6, 7-5. Veress was hitting shots with power and confidence as he tallied the second point for the Bears. At No. 1, Fruttero won the first set 6-3, yet UCLA's Jean Julien Rojer came back to take the second set, 6-2. Fruttero would rally in the third set, after being down 4-2, to tie the match at 6-6, sending it to a third-set tie-break. Fruttero's serve was unstoppable as he would claim the win with a 7-1 tie break victory.
BEARS TOOK FOUR IN A ROW: Before falling to UCLA, 4-3, the Cal men's team were riding a four-match winning streak, all of which were played at the Hellman Tennis Courts.The Bears started it off with a sweep of the Arizona schools, April 13-14, before taking on Pepperdine, April 16. Pepperdine had recently dropped from No. 7 to No. 12 in the rankings, yet the Bears gathered up their strengths in singles to upset the Waves and grab a 4-3 victory. In the Bears 4-2 win over USC, April 21, Cal switched up the doubles teams, as seniors Scott Kintz and Erik Dmytruk grabbed a tough win for the Bears at the No. 2 spot, defeating Parker Collins and Andrew Park, 8-6. Cal's duo of Ben Miles and Balazs Veress cruised to an easy 8-1 victory at No. 3. In singles, the big victory came at No. 1, where Fruttero went up against his nemesis and high school teammate, Andrew Park. Fruttero has competed against Park numerous times, matching up with him in junior national competitions, collegiate tournaments and in April 6th's matchup in Los Angeles. The meetings between the two exceed double digits, yet Fruttero has never won a single contest against Park. That would all change, as Fruttero took his first ever win over Park, doing so in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4. Fruttero's play gave the Bears an added boost and helped propel the team past USC, giving Cal its first sweep over USC in school history. Cal's other two singles points came at No. 4, where Kowalczyk won, 6-0, 6-1, and at No. 6 where red-hot Ben Miles won, 6-3, 6-2. Cal has won six of its last nine matches, including four in a row at the Hellman Tennis Courts.
A LOOK AT THE RANKINGS: The No. 21-ranked Bears have had considerable success against teams with higher rankings, and deserve to move up before the season's end. On April 6, Cal handed No. 18-ranked USC a 4-2 defeat in Los Angeles. Cal repeated the feat April 21, when they handed the No. 18-ranked Trojans a 4-2 defeat at the Hellmna Tennis Courts. On April 16, Cal upset then No. 12-ranked Pepperdine in Berkeley, defeating the Waves, 4-3, behind four wins in singles. The Bears biggest win came on March 17, when Cal defeated No. 8-ranked Southern Methodist in Indian Wells, 4-3, after winning the doubles point and three singles matches at No. 3, 4 and 5. Despite a loss to No. 4-ranked Texas Christian, March 27, and a season-opening loss at No. 16 Washington, the Bears only major losses have come to conference foes UCLA and Stanford, who have been ranked in the top five for a majority of the season. The Bears gave UCLA a scare, April 22, when they took the Bruins to the wire, losing to the No. 1 team in the country, 4-3.
CAL TAKES 3RD PLACE IN PAC-10: Cal solidified a third place finish in the Pac-10 with a 4-3 conference record. The last time the Bears finished the conference in the top three dates back six years to 1995, when the Bears tied for 3rd in the conference with a 5-5 Pac-10 record. That year, the Bears ended their season in the Round of 16 at the NCAA championships, while garnering a No. 13 national ranking at the end of the season. It was the second year with Head Coach Peter Wright at the helm, who in the year before, was named Wilson/ITA Regional Coach of the Year for guiding the Bears to the postseason after Cal had missed the Big Dance the previous two seasons.