No. 5 Bears (12-1) Win Sixth Straight, Blank BYU, 7-0
March 24, 2003
Berkeley, Calif. - The California men's tennis team (12-1) earned its sixth consecutive victory this afternoon, this time with a 7-0 sweep of the BYU Cougars at the Hellman Tennis Center in Berkeley. With the victory, the Bears improve to 16-3 all-time vs. the Cougars.
Cal mixed things up on the doubles front, showing two new doubles combinations with the long awaited return of senior captain John Paul Fruttero to the lineup. All three Cal teams jumped out to 1-0 leads in their respective matches, but it was the seasoned doubles tandem of Mik Ledvonova and Conor Niland that finished first. The European duo set it on cruise control, completing a swift 8-1 victory over Alonso Medina and Jeff Olsen on court No. 3. Pairing together for the first time, Patrick Briaud and Robert Kowalczyk clinched the victory for the Golden Bears on court two with their 8-3 decision over Jose Luis Lechuga and Anton Rudjuk.
With the doubles point in hand, the marquee matchup on court No. 1 was for personal pride. The match pitted senior All-American Steve Berke and the All-American Fruttero, whom had been sidelined for a little over two months rehabilitating from wrist surgery, against the No. 10 duo in the nation, Carlos Lozano and Erik Nyman. The matchup played out as anticipated with each team trading service points for the majority of the match. The pivotal point came with the score knotted at 3-3 and Berke serving up triple break point. The Cougar pair rallied to force deuce and ultimately win the game to take the 4-3 lead. The Bears were not able to overcome the lost momentum and ultimately were defeated 8-6.
The singles competition started rather ominously on the Bears' top courts as Niland, Veress and Dekel all fell behind early in their respective matches. But, on courts four through six, Kowalczyk, Berke and Ledvonova reversed that trend, all taking early leads of their own. Ledvonova was the first to walk off at court No. 6, as the Denmark product posted his 10th consecutive victory with a 6-1, 6-1 drubbing of Rudjuk. After falling behind 1-2 early in the first set to BYU's Lechuga, Israeli Or Dekel only relinquished one more game as he rocketed to a 6-3, 6-0 victory on court three. With the quick 3-0 match lead, Cal needed only to win one more contest, and Berke was willing to oblige. The senior transfer from Yale clinched the match for the Bears on court No. 5 with his 6-1, 6-3 victory over Olsen, evening his record to 5-5 as a Golden Bear.
With the victory already in hand, Cal's Kowalczyk, Veress and Niland were still aiming for the sweep. The 41st-ranked Kowalczyk claimed his ninth victory of the season with a 6-2, 6-2 decision over Medina, and Veress battled to a 7-6, 6-1 victory over Lozano for his third in a row.
On the top court, the 38th-ranked Niland looked down and out early, losing the first set, but rebounded for the 2-6, 6-1, (1-0) win over Nyman to give the Bears the coveted sweep over the Cougars.
Cal returns to action Tuesday, March 25 as the Bears challenge No. 1 Illinois at 2:00 p.m. at the Hellman Tennis Center.
RESULTNo. 5 California 7, No. 59 BYU 0
SINGLES1. No. 38 Conor Niland (Cal) d. Erik Nyman (BYU), 2-6, 6-1, (1-0)2. Balazs Veress (Cal) d. Carlos Lozano (BYU), 7-6, 6-13. Or Dekel (Cal) d. Jose Luis Lechuga (BYU), 6-3, 6-04. No. 41 Robert Kowalczyk (Cal) d. Alonso Medina (BYU), 6-2, 6-25. Steve Berke (Cal) d. Jeff Olsen (BYU), 6-1, 6-36. Mik Ledvonova (Cal) d. Anton Rudjuk (BYU), 6-1, 6-1
DOUBLES (California wins doubles point)1. No. 10 Lozano/Nyman (BYU) d. Berke/Fruttero (Cal), 8-62. Briaud/Kowalczyk (Cal) d. Lechuga/Rudjuk (BYU), 8-33. Ledvonova/Niland (Cal) d. Medina/Olsen (BYU), 8-1
Records - No. 5 California 12-1, No. 59 BYU 7-4