No. 4 Cal (5-0) to Compete at National Team Indoors
Feb. 18, 2003
WHATS ON TAP: This week the California men's tennis team travels to Louisville, KY, to take on the best teams in the nation at the National Team Indoors. The weekend will be a strong test for the Bears, off to their best start since 1998. The 2003 edition can surpass that mark with a strong showing at the national competition.
ABOUT CALIFORNIA: The Bears are coming off another perfect Hellman weekend, having downed the UCSB Gauchos 6-1 before taking out the Fresno Bulldogs, 5-2. The Bears continued their dominance in doubles, capturing the critical doubles points in both events. Sophomore Irishman Conor Niland was the big winner of the weekend, only dropping a total of five games on the way to two straight-set victories on the second court. Sophomore Mik Ledvonova matched that mark on the fifth court.
INSIDE THE TEAM INDOORS: The event is a four-day competition pitting the best of the best in collegiate team tennis. The top nine teams in the nation will be in attendance, and all the squads are ranked among the top 35. The Bears open on Thursday with the 13th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks at 9 a.m. Should they get past Arkansas, Cal will face either No. 6 Florida or No. 11 USC in the second round on Friday.
BEARS IN THE INDOOR TOURNEY: Cal has a record of 21-17 at the event, which draws some of the best competition in the nation. The Bears were crowned champs of the tournament in 1980 and 1981, and have competed a total of 12 times. Cal was in attendance last season, and was narrowly defeated by then-No. 6 Illinois and 26th-ranked Indiana State, while dropping No. 52 Brown.
ABOUT ARKANSAS: Arkansas is ranked No. 26 in the ITA polls this week. The 7-1 Razorbacks are led by Nathan Price (3-8) on the No. 1 court singles. Price and Eduardo Pacheo also are Arkansas' top doubles team, sporting a 4-3 mark.
HOME, SWEET HELLMAN: While the Bears' record of 19-7 last season was certainly impressive, Cal was a definite force to be reckoned with on their home courts. The Bears compiled a 13-1 record at home during the 2002 campaign, including a 10-match winning streak that spanned two months. The run was broken by Stanford (4/9) - then No. 6 in the nation - which only narrowly defeated the 17th-ranked Cal team by a 4-3 score. Cal has kicked off the 2003 home slate where it left off last year, starting the season 4-0 at Hellman.
DOUBLE TROUBLE?: Entering the 2002-03 season, Cal head coach Peter Wright pointed to doubles competition as a possible team weakness. But through five matches, the Bears have compiled an impressive 10-5 record while taking the doubles point in four of the five matches. Cal's tandem of Patrick Briaud and Balazs Veress leads the pack with an unblemished 5-0 start.
OFF TO THE RACES: The last time that a Cal team opened the season 5-0 was 1998 when the squad started 7-0.
STAR PERFORMANCE: Balazs Veress was named Daily Cal Athlete of the Week (2/3-2/7) for his performance in the 4-3 come from behind win over Stanford. Veress clinched the match for the bears in a three set thriller.
INJURY REPORT: Senior All-American John Paul Fruttero has returned to the courts for light hitting for the first time since his wrist surgery January 10th. If his recovery goes to plan, he should see action in March - just in time for the Pac-10 season.