No. 5 Cal (11-1) Hosts Nationally No. 1 Ranked Illinois
March 24, 2003
Berkeley, Calif. - WHAT'S ON TAP: The No. 5 California men's tennis team (11-1), off to its best start since the 1989 squad also opened 11-1, returns from a three-match road trip this week looking to extend its five-match win streak vs. BYU Monday, March 24 at 1:30 p.m. and top-ranked Illinois Tuesday, March 25 at 2:00 p.m. Illinois and Cal combine to place eight players in the Top 105 in the nation.
MAGIC MIK: As a freshman last season, Mik Ledvonova finished tied with then-junior John Paul Fruttero for second place on the team in dual match wins (16-3). So, it is not surprising that the Denmark product has started 2003 in much the same manner, compiling a 10-0 record through 11 matches. After primarily competing at No. 6 singles last year, Ledvonova has bounced between courts No. 5 and 6 this season, posting a 4-0 record on five and 6-0 on six.
STREAKING: Besides Ledvonova's nine-match winning streak, sophomore Conor Niland (No. 38) has claimed five in a row, while senior Robert Kowalczyk (No. 41) had his six-match win streak snapped Saturday vs. SMU.
ABOUT ILLINOIS: The Fighting Illini enter this week as the No. 1 team in the nation with an umblemished 13-0 record (3-0, Big Ten). Illinois has four players ranked in the Top 15 in the nation, and six in the Top 105. The Illini have three 20-match winners in No. 8 Phil Stolt (20-2), No. 103 Michael Calkins (20-5) and No. 74 Ryan DeHeart (22-5). No. 5 Amer Delic, No. 9 Brian Wilson and Pramod Dabir are all 19-4. The Bears and Illini are deadlocked at 1-1 all-time vs. each other, with Illinois winning the last meeting, 4-1, in the first round of the 2002 National Team Indoor Championships. In fall tourney action, individual players from the two squads faced each other 10 times, with the Illini holding a 7-3 advantage. Kowalczyk provided the largest upset of the fall, defeating then No. 2-ranked Delic, 6-3, 6-1, at the Napa Valley Classic in September.
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 kicked off the 2003 home slate where it left off last year, starting the season 5-0 at Hellman with only six more home matches left to play.
DID YOU KNOW: Cal's most consistent play this season has come from courts four and six, where the Bears are a combined 18-5 through 12 matches. Kowalczyk leads on court four with a 6-1 record while Ledvonova is a perfect 6-0 on No. 6. In doubles play, court No. 2 as been the hot spot with Briaud and Veress' 6-2 record leading the way to an 8-3 overall slate.