2002 Men's Tennis Season In Review
May 30, 2002
BERKELEY, Calif. - 2002 was a season of historical note for the Cal men's tennis squad.
First came the dramatic 4-3 comeback win against the arch-rival Stanford Cardinal, then ranked No. 1 in the nation. The win ended a 21-match losing streak to the team from the farm, and kicked off a 10-match winning streak, the third-longest in school history.
After just barely missing a chance to sweep Stanford for the first time in 40 years, the Bears embarked on a late-April run which saw Cal take down No. 5 Pepperdine, No. 13 USC and No. 2 UCLA. Against Pepperdine, the Bears were absolutely dominant, sending the Waves home with a 6-1 loss. The UCLA match, which closed the Bears' regular season, saw Cal defeat the higher-ranked Bruins for the second time in two weeks, the first UCLA sweep since 1953.
Cal's 2002 netters rank as the school's best all-time squad since joining the Pac-10, as the Bears finished with a 5-2 conference record and a second-place tie, Cal's best ever finish in the competitive league.
While the team went on to lose a 4-3 heartbreaker to Duke in the NCAA Regional final, the Bears' players showed that they would be a team to reckon with in 2003.
After being named First-team All-Pac-10, team captain John Paul Fruttero finished the year with a No. 10 national ranking, as was selected to go to the NCAA Singles Championship for the second consecutive year. The junior from San Marino breezed through the first three rounds of the 64-team draw, taking down Minnesota's third-ranked Harsh Mankad to become the first Golden Bear to advance to the NCAA Singles Quarterfinals since 1995.
Fruttero and Robert Kowalczyk also represented one of the nation's best doubles tandems. Boasting a No. 12 national ranking, the pair began the post-season by advancing to the semifinals at the Pac-10 Championships. After winning their match in the team portion of the NCAA Championships, the ninth-ranked Bear pair put together a long run at the NCAA Doubles Championship, advancing to the Round of 16.
2001 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Balazs Veress finished the season with a No. 72 national ranking, and was named Honorable Mention, All-Pac-10.
Sophomore Wayne Wong got better in leaps and bounds for the Bears in 2002, leading the team in overall wins with 24, while seeing time at courts two through five, and playing in all but two matches for the Bears.
The future looks solid with two top-notch freshman newcomers. Conor Niland, an Irish native, played the majority of the season at the No. 3 court, finished with a 7-3 dual record there, claiming a No. 83 national ranking. Dane Mik Ledvonova, who once defeated top US player Andy Roddick, held down the No. 5 and No. 6 court for the Bears, finishing the season with a 16-3 overall dual record. Freshman Patrick Briaud became a regular doubles player late in the season, joining with Veress on the third court for five matches in April and May, including wins in both postseason team matches.
All six singles regulars and five doubles starters will be back for the 2003 campaign.