Cal Opens Season on Saturday

Jan. 29, 2002

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ONE NEW YEAR, SEVEN NEW PLAYERS: Oh, the difference an offseason can make. The Bears return to the court on Saturday with seven new players on their 12-man roster. This guarantees that at least one Cal player will be making their blue and gold debut at Hellman in both the singles and doubles courts. One thing that Bear faithful can count on is that 2001 Pac-10 Coach of the Year Peter Wright will have his young squad (which includes only one senior) ready to start the season.

11TH-RANKED: Despite the overall inexperience of the roster, Cal's play in the fall did not go unnoticed by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. The Bears open up their season ranked a stone's throw away from the top-ten in the country, checking in at No. 11. This is a five-position jump for Cal, which finished last season at the 16th spot.

IN THE FALL: 2001 Freshman of the Year Balazs Veress continued to impress to begin his sophomore year. Veress posted a 6-4 record, which included a win over No. 51 Kristofer Stahlberg of Mississippi at the 2001 ITA All-American Championships. He also made an impressive run to the semifinals at the Omni Hotels Northern California Region Championships, before dropping a 0-6, 7-6(2), 4-6 decision to No. 31 Scott Lipsky of Stanford. Veress finished the fall ranked No. 50 in the country by the ITA. All-American John Paul Fruttero and Robert Kowalczyk will be returning to the team after competing in professional events.

HOME, SWEET HELLMAN: While the Bears' record of 16-9 last season was impressive, Cal was a definite force to be reckoned with on their home courts. The Bears had a 10-3 record at home during the 2001 campaign, including a nine-match winning streak. The streak was broken in the final match of the season by then-No.1 UCLA, which only narrowly defeated the 22nd-ranked Cal team by a 4-3 score.

ABOUT ST. MARY'S: St. Mary's began the 2002 campaign unranked, and dropped its first match of the season, 7-0, to Pepperdine. The Gaels rebounded, however, to defeat Cal Poly the next day by a score of 4-3. The team finished with an overall record of 14-9 last year, paced by Thomas Burgemeister, who notched a 14-4 record in dual meets. Burgemeister worked mostly out of the 5th court, where he logged a perfect 8-0 mark. The last time that Cal and St. Mary's met, the Bears throttled the Gaels, 5-1, only losing on the fifth court.

ABOUT SANTA CLARA: Santa Clara opens the season ranked 75th (tied) in the country by the ITA, and has opened its season 2-0. The Broncos have won their first two matches by 7-0 marks, decimating both UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz, during their young 2002 campaign. Returning to the squad from last season's 15-9 team is Michael Bruggeman, who was named to the all-WCC first team for doubles last season. The last time that Cal and Santa Clara locked horns was on March 10, 2001, with the Bears taking an easy 6-1 win over the Broncos in Berkeley.

LOOKING BACK TO 2001: The Bears surprised a lot of people last season, opening the season ranked 24th in the country and finishing in the 16th spot with a 16-9 record. For his efforts, head coach Peter Wright was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year after leading Cal to a 3rd-place finish in the conference, its highest finish since 1998 (4-3 Pac-10 record).

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