No. 5 Cal Travels to No. 48 Arizona State, No. 50 Arizona
March 4, 2003
WHAT'S ON TAP: Off to its best start since the 1998 squad opened the season 8-1, the No. 5-ranked Cal men's tennis team looks to continue its two-match winning streak this week, taking on Pac-10 foes Arizona State (No. 48) Friday and Arizona (No. 50) Saturday. The Bears hold a 39-11 all-time edge over the Sun Devils and will face them at 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 7 in Tempe. Cal then travels to Tucson looking to improve on its 35-12 all-time advantage over the Wildcats at noon on Saturday, March 8.
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 its 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 kicked off the 2003 home slate where it left off last year, starting the season 5-0 at Hellman, including victories over then-No. 4 Stanford and No. 35 TCU.
LAST WEEK IN LA JOLLA: Four Cal doubles tandems took part in the 114th annual Pacific Coast Men's Doubles Championships at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club in La Jolla, CA. Two pairs, Kevin Patrick/Dean Wallace and Steve Berke/Robert Kowalczyk lost in the Round of 64, before being defeated once again in the first round of consolation play. Or Dekel and Jeff King cruised through a first-round victory before losing in the Round of 32. Patrick Briaud and Conor Niland fared much better, advancing to the Round of 16, but ultimately fell to USC's Daniel Langre and Ruben Torres in three sets.
SWEEP OVER THE UTES: The Bears returned home from a 2-1 showing and a tie for fifth place at the National Team Indoor Championships with a masterful 7-0 sweep over Utah. Cal initiated the sweep by claiming the doubles point with victories on all three courts. Sophomore Patrick Briaud and junior Balazs Veress claimed their eighth victory in dual play, improving to 8-1 on the year. Things didn't get any better for the Utes as Cal's courts No. 1 through No. 5 defeated their opponents in straight sets, not even giving Utah a chance to get back into the game. On the No. 6 court, the Bears' Briaud was the only one who appeared to be struggling, dropping his first set to Kaisorn Chaichana. But Briaud picked up his game and continued on to defeat Chaichana, 0-6, 6-1, 6-3, for his first win on the singles court this season and the seventh point for Cal.
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Entering the 2002-03 season, Cal head coach Peter Wright pointed to doubles competition as a possible team weakness. Last year, Wright's squad used 10 different doubles combinations en route to a 41-26 overall record ... so look for 2003 to be much of the same. To this point, the squad has claimed seven of the nine doubles points in dual match play. In the two matches Cal dropped the doubles point, the Bears fought back for 4-3 victories.
THE RANKINGS ARE IN: The USTA/ITA announced the second of nine individual national rankings last week (2/26) and the Bears place three singles players in the Top 65. Sophomore Irishman Conor Niland heads the pack, checking in at No. 27, up from his previous ranking of No. 31. Senior Robert Kowalczyk also climbed the charts, moving up to No. 49 from his earlier showing of No. 82. After entering the season at No. 37, junior Balazs Veress fell 24 spots to No. 61. The next scheduled individual rankings are due out on March 12.
LEADER OF THE PACK: Sophomore Mik Ledvonova leads the team in dual match wins with a perfect 7-0 record.