Fruttero, Kowalczyk Set to Compete in NCAA Championships
May 22, 2002
Wednesday, May 22
Fruttero vs. Toledo
11:30 a.m. CDT
Thursday, May 23
Fruttero/Kowalczyk vs. Lozano/YilmsAfter 1:00 p.m. CDT
INDIVIDUAL COMPETITION BEGINS WEDNESDAY: 64 singles and 32 doubles tandems will begin competition Wednesday in their quest to win the NCAA Singles and Doubles titles at the NCAA Championship at Texas A&M University. Representing the University of California in singles will be 11th-ranked junior John Paul Fruttero (17-7), who is seeded 9/16. Fruttero will also join with Robert Kowalczyk in doubles, where the pair is ranked No. 12 (13-9).
CAL AT THE NCAAS: The Bears have a long and rich tradition at the NCAA Championships. The team boasts two singles titles (E.G. Chandler, '25 and '26), along with nine doubles crowns. The last time that Cal took home an individual national championship came in 1991, when All-Americans Matt Lucena and Bent-Ove Pedersen dominated the field to take the title. For Lucena, it was his second consecutive NCAA Doubles title, as he won it the year before with partner Doug Eisenman. The Bears' have been a part of the post season every year during head coach Peter Wright's tenure. Last season, Fruttero earned a berth at NCAAs, but was eliminated in the first round.
PREVIEWING THE COMPETITON, SINGLES: In the first round Wednesday, Fruttero, the team captain, will meet 20th-ranked senior Mario Toledo from the University of Tennessee. Toledo holds down a 33-11 record on the season, playing primarily at the team's second court. Toledo's biggest win of the 2002 season came against Hawaii Pacific's Blaz Jurjec. Toledo dominated Jurjec, winning in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1. Fruttero and Toledo had two common opponents this season in No. 13 Amer Delic of the University of Illinois, and No. 4 Al Garland of Pepperdine. While Toledo was winless against these two foes, Fruttero compiled a 1-2 record against them, including a dominating 7-5, 6-0 victory over Garland when the Wave was ranked No. 1.
Should Fruttero advance to the second round, he would meet either Illinois' Brian Wilson or UCLA's Rodrigo Grilli. Wilson is ranked No. 39 in the nation with a 31-8 overall singles record. While Fruttero and Wilson did not meet this season, the Bears are familiar with the Illini's antics, as both Mik Ledvonova and Chase Exon lost to him this season. Wilson's biggest upset in 2002 came against Georgia's Brandon Wagner, where he picked up a 7-6(5), 6-4 win. Grilli is ranked 48th in the nation with a 29-4 record. Fruttero's doubles partner, Kowalczyk, faced Grilli in April 20's dual match, dropping a 6-3, 7-5 decision.
PREVIEWING THE COMPETITION, DOUBLES: Fruttero and Kowalczyk will be tested right away in the doubles draw, as the tandem will open up against seventh-ranked and 5-8 seed Carlos Lozano and Gert Yilms of Brigham Young University. Fruttero and Kowalczyk locked horns with the Cougar pair in March, being narrowly defeated, 9-7 in a highly competitive match. The pair owns a 25-8 doubles record, playing exclusively at the top court. The highlight of the BYU pair's season came in a win against third-ranked Oluver Meiborgor and Ryan Redondo of San Diego State in January.
Should Fruttero and Kowalczyk advance through the first round, they are slated to meet either Bobby Reynolds and Lewis Smith from Vanderbilt or Phillip King and Michael Yani of Duke. Reynolds and Smith rank No. 26 with a 9-4 record exclusively on the top doubles court. King and Yani represent a chance to extract a certain measure of revenge for Cal's tandem. While Fruttero and Kowalczyk took down the 28th-ranked tandem (13-12) two weeks ago in the NCAA Regional final, 8-4, Duke ultimately upset the Bears, knocking them out of the NCAA Team Championships.