Five Bear Men and Women Receive All-Pac-10 Honors
May 6, 2003
Walnut Creek, Calif. - In a vote by the Conference coaches, sophomore Conor Niland and junior Raquel Kops-Jones headline a list that includes three Cal men and two Cal women to be named to the 2003 All-Conference squads, announced Tuesday, May 6 by the Pacific-10 Conference.
On the men's side, in addition to Niland, senior Robert Kowalczyk earned second team honors while senior captain John Paul Fruttero earned honorable mention. The senior captain on the women's side, Christina Fusano, was the only other California women's player to receive the award, being named to the second team. Niland and Kowalczyk earn their first such honor, while Fusano claims her second, Kops-Jones her third and Fruttero his fourth.
Niland, a sophomore from Limerick, Ireland, is currently ranked as the No. 36 singles player in the nation after compiling a 17-5 dual record and 25-10 overall. Splitting time mostly at courts one and two, Niland created matchup problems for the opposition, posting a 9-3 record on court two. Entering the fall ranked No. 49, he immediately jumped into the Top 40 with impressive performances at the All-Americans and Northwest Regionals, advancing to the quarterfinals of both. Most recently, Niland was selected to represent Cal in the NCAA Singles Championships.
Kowalczyk, a senior from Vero Beach, Florida, had his most successful season as a Golden Bear, compiling a 23-9 overall record while finishing the regular season with a #57 national ranking. He created matchup problems for the opposition on court four, posting an 11-2 record to finish tied with Niland for the most dual victories on the team (17-3). He turned it on when the team needed it most, finishing the Pac-10 dual slate with a perfect 11-0 mark. Kowalczyk was recently named the first alternate for the NCAA Singles Championship.
A three-time All-Conference selection entering the season, Fruttero spent the majority of the year hindered by injury. At the Pac-10 Championships in Ojai, he advanced to the semifinals in the strongest showing of all the Bears, completing upset victories over #76 Pim Van Mele of Arizona State and #27 Matt Hanlin of Washington.
Kops-Jones, ranked #6 in the nation, statistically had her best season as a Golden Bear. She led the team in overall victories with a 38-14 record, while playing 23 of the squad's 24 matches on court one. She defeated Stanford's Alice Barnes October 28, 2002 to claim the Northwest Regional crown and automatically claim a spot at the National Indoor Championships. After losing in the finals of the Milwaukee Tennis Classic, she then rebounded to claim the consolation title at the Pac-10 Indoor Championships, defeating nationally ranked Adria Engel of Arizona State. Teamed with Fusano, the pair finished the season with an 18-5 dual record and 30-9 overall, both-team leading marks. The duo then capped of the 2003 season by claiming their second consecutive Pac-10 Doubles Championship. Kops-Jones was selected to participate in the NCAA Singles Championship, while her and Fusano will compete in the NCAA Doubles Championship.
Fusano, a senior team captain from El Dorado, CA, completed the 2003 regular season with a #25 national ranking and a 23-12 overall singles record. Her 17 dual match wins (17-7) were second most on the team, including a 13-6 mark on court two. She won 11 straight dual matches from 3/7/03 to 4/11/03 as team went 11-1 in that stretch. Fusano also advanced to the semifinals of the Northwest Regionals, upsetting eventual Pac-10 Player of the Year, Daria Panova of Oregon, in the process. As well as her doubles selection, she was also selected to take part in the NCAA Singles competition for the second consecutive year.
Both teams begin NCAA Team competition this weekend as the women travel to College Station, TX and the men host their regional.