In a Battle of Heavyweights, No. 9 Cal Edges No. 4 Stanford
Feb. 1, 2003
Berkeley, Calif. - In front of a record-setting crowd at Hellman Tennis Complex, the No. 9 California Golden Bears overcame a 3-1 deficit to edge the No. 4 Stanford Cardinal, 4-3, Saturday afternoon in the Bears' home opener. Cal improves to 2-0 on the season while Stanford falls to 0-1.
The last three matches between the two cross-bay rivals has been decided by one point, all 4-3 decisions with Cal taking two out of three.
The Bears got off to a rocky start, losing the doubles point after dropping two of the three matches. The doubles play was not without excitement, though, as doubles courts No. 1 and No. 2 went down to the wire in matches that lasted over an hour each. Yale transfer senior All-American Steve Berke and his partner senior Robert Kowalczyk battled the nation's No. 3 ranked tandem of David Martin and Scott Lipsky on court No. 1. The two teams fought neck and neck until the end, with the Cardinal duo ultimately edging the Cal pair, 9-7. On court No. 2, sophomore Patrick Briaud and junior Balazs Veress also had a fight on their hands, but came out on top, 8-6, over Stanford's Ryan Haviland and Sam Warburg. Freshman Or Dekel and sophomore Conor Niland lost on court No. 3 to Stanford's No. 9 ranked team of K.C. Corkery and James Pade.
Already down 1-0 after losing the doubles point, the Bears hit the courts for singles play, and dropped two of the first three matches to fall behind 3-1. On court No. 2 Dekel lost to No. 15 David Martin in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5, while his teammate Berke also dropped his match in straight sets on court No. 5 to James Pade, 6-2, 6-0. The nation's No. 82 ranked player Kowalczyk gave the Bears a glimmer of hope, though, with his 6-2, 6-2 victory over No. 50 K.C. Corkery to give Cal a point with three matches still in progress.
Courts No. 1, No. 3 and No. 6 were still in action, and would ultimately decided the outcome of the match. On court No. 6, sophomore Mik Ledvonova brought the Bears within one, 3-2, after upending Stanford's Carter Morris in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3. The last men standing for Cal, No. 31 Conor Niland and No. 37 Balazs Veress, had their work cut out for them if the Bears were to have a fighting chance.
Both Cal players dropped the first sets in their respective matches, only to come back and emerge victorious in three-set thrillers to give the Golden Bears the victory. Niland finished first with his 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory over the nation's 46th ranked player, Scott Lipsky, to tie the match at three points apiece. Veress clinched the match for Cal after an outstanding third set performance that saw some unbelievable winning return shots to claim the 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over the Cardinal's Ryan Haviland - and give the Bears the sweet smell of victory.
'I am proud of how well the guys fought back today,' exclaimed head coach Peter Wright. 'Stanford is always a tough team to play and it was a great college tennis match.'
Cal continues its four-match homestand as the squad hosts No. 35 TCU on Monday, Feb. 10 at 1:30 p.m. at Hellman Tennis Complex.
Doubles1. David Martin/Scott Lipsky (Stan) def. Steve Berke/Robert Kowalczyk (Cal), 9-72. Patrick Briaud/Balazs Veress (Cal) def. Ryan Haviland/Sam Warburg (Stan), 8-63. K.C. Corkery/ James Pade (Stan) def. Or Dekel/Conor Niland (Cal), 8-1
Singles1. Balazs Veress (Cal) def. Ryan Haviland (Stan), 4-6, 6-4, 6-32. David Martin (Stan) def. Or Dekel (Cal), 6-3, 7-53. Conor Niland (Cal) def. Scott Lipsky (Stan), 2-6, 7-5, 6-24. Robert Kowalczyk (Cal) def. K.C. Corkery (Stan), 6-2, 6-25. James Pade (Stan) def. Steve Berke (Cal), 6-2, 6-06. Mik Ledvonova (Cal) def. Carter Morris (Stan), 7-5, 6-3