Men's Tennis Awaits NCAA Invite
April 28, 2004
THIS WEEK: Washington's 24th-ranked men's tennis team is on break until May 14-15 when they will begin their NCAA title run in the NCAA Regionals. The locations and participants for each of the four-team regionals have yet to be selected. Washington (14-8, 4-3 Pac-10) has won its regional each of the past three years, advancing to the final 16-team NCAA Tournament field on each occasion.
UW AT THE PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS: Last weekend Washington sent a contingent of players to Ojai, California to compete in the individual Pac-10 Championships. The tournament featured the 32-player singles main draw, a 32-player singles invitational draw, a 16-team main doubles draw and a 16-team invitational doubles draw. In the main singles draw, junior Alex Vlaski reached the semifinals for the third-straight year by winning his first three matches, but fell in a third-set tiebreak to USC's Adriano Biasella in the semis. Biasella prevented Vlaski from winning his first Pac-10 crown with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (2) win. In the second round, Vlaski staged a miraculous comeback over another Trojan, Jamil Al-Agba. After losing the first set 7-5, Vlaski trailed 5-2 in the second set and 5-1 in the third set but rallied to win both sets to take the match 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (2). Alex Slovic, Daniel Chu and Christoph Palmanshofer also competed in the main singles draw, however only Palmanshofer advanced past the first round, where he defeated Stanford's 61st-ranked KC Corkery, 6-3, 6-2. Freshman Michael Ricks had a successful weekend in the Invitational draws, notching two wins in the singles bracket and two more in the doubles bracket with partner Chris Floyd.
INDIVIDUAL NOTES...Alex Vlaski: Junior All-American Alex Vlaski (Belgrade, Yugoslavia) continues on his way to a potential national championship as the anchor of the Huskies' singles lineup. Unfortunately, his bid for his first Pac-10 singles crown fell just short in the semifinals, where 31st-ranked Adriano Biasella prevailed in a third-set tiebreak. Vlaski had beaten Biasella in straight-sets only two weeks prior to their semifinal face-off. Always facing the opposition's top gun, Vlaski has amassed an exceptional 19-4 record against ranked foes this season including eight wins over players in the top-25, and four over top-10 players. His overall record stands at 27-6. Vlaski's 90 wins put him in fourth place on UW's career singles wins list. This fall, Vlaski became the first Husky national champion since 1924 by winning the ITA All-American Singles Championship. As the fourth seed in the prestigious tournament, Vlaski defeated three players ranked in the top-20 of the ITA rankings en route to the title.
Alex Slovic: Vlaski is not the only left-handed 'Alex' from Yugoslavia that has been dominating the singles courts this season. Freshman Alex Slovic (Pancevo, Yugoslavia), a childhood friend of Vlaski's, has made an immediate major impact on the collegiate tennis world. In the latest ITA Rankings, Slovic shot up to a new career high of 27. Slovic now sits as the second highest-ranked freshman in the nation. Slovic is tied with Vlaski for the most dual wins with 18 and second to Vlaski in total wins at 25 overall. The freshman already owns nine wins over ranked opponents and earlier this season recorded an 11-match winning streak, the 11th win coming in an upset of then-33rd-ranked William Barker from Rice in a third-set tiebreaker on Feb. 28. Slovic has dominated most of his competition, winning 24 of his 25 matches in straight sets. His win against Barker was the first three-set win in his career.
Daniel Chu: Washington has received significant contributions from freshman this year and a large part of that has been thanks to Daniel Chu (Vancouver, B.C.). Chu began dual play with a seven-match winning streak, during which he earned a big win over Harvard's No. 77 Cliff Nguyen in UW's 4-2 victory in the National Team Indoors. Chu won 12 of the first 15 matches of his college career. In UW's dual versus UCLA, Chu upset 82nd-ranked Chris Lam in straight sets for one of the Huskies' only two points. Chu notched four wins in Pac-10 play, all but one at the No. 3 singles spot. Chu's 18-12 record ties him for third on the team in total wins. He spent the early season mainly at fourth singles, going 8-2, before moving up to No. 3 singles where he has gone 4-6.
Christoph Palmanshofer: The junior Palmanshofer (St. Georgen, Austria) is one of the Huskies's most dangerous veterans. His biggest win came in the first round of the Pac-10 Championsips where he upset Stanford's No. 61 KC Corkery in straight sets. Palmanshofer started strong this year, reaching the semifinals of the ITA NW Championships and defeating No. 89 James Pade of Stanford in the quarters. The junior won seven of his first eight matches and nine of his first 12, playing in the third singles position for the first eight dual matches. He was ranked as high as 61st early in the season. Palmshofer snapped a three-match losing streak with a three-set comeback win over Jonathan Kinsella of Arizona State to clinch the win for the Huskies on March 8. Palmanshofer picked up three wins in Pac-10 play, each win coinciding with a Husky team victory. Palmanshofer has compiled a 15-12 record this year.
Peter Scharler: Peter Scharler (Salzburg, Austria) has been the third member of Washington's powerhouse singles trio. With his stellar play at No. 5 singles, Scharler has given the Dawgs a reliable source of points lower in the lineup to complement Vlaski and Slovic at the top. Scharler has had win streaks of seven and five matches this year, and owns wins in 13 of his last 15 matches. Four of his last five wins have come in three sets. He has also moved up to fourth singles three times this season, winning each match. The junior is 16-3 in dual play overall this season, placing him behind only Vlaski and Slovic's 18 wins.
DOUBLES PLAY: After getting off to a 6-5 start in the doubles point, Head Coach Matt Anger made a lineup switch that has since produced a mark of 7-2. Alex Vlaski and freshman Daniel Chu have already earned themselves a No. 19 national ranking despite only playing 12 matches together. Vlaski and Chu showed instant chemistry by upsetting TCU's 10th-ranked duo of Rafael Abreu and Fabrizo Sestini in their first match together. Since that initial victory, the tandem has also knocked off the No. 8 team, Alberto Francis and Krzysztof Kwinta from UCLA, as well as two different pairs, both ranked 12th, from Cal and USC. Chu and Vlaski are 8-4 overall. In the No. 2 spot, Alex Slovic and senior Nick Weiss are ranked 60th in the current ITA Rankings, their first appearance in the rankings. Slovic and Weiss won their first eight matches together and are currently 9-3. The duo picked up their highest-ranked win in the first round of the Pac-10 Championships when they upset Stanford's No. 24 team of Carter Morris and Sam Warburg, 9-8 (10). Christoph Palmanshofer and Peter Scharler are 3-3 so far in the No. 3 spot. The lineup switch snapped a four-match doubles point losing streak. UW's overall record stands at 13-8 in the doubles point. Slovic leads the Huskies with 21 doubles wins, followed closely by Weiss and Vlaski with 20. Weiss has shown great versatility by picking up his 20 wins with four different partners. When the Huskies win the doubles point they are 11-3. When they lose the doubles point their record stands at 3-5.
FINAL PAC-10 STANDINGS: The men finished in sole possession of fourth place in the Pac-10 standings with a 4-3 record. USC and UCLA shared the conference title with 6-1 records, followed by Stanford who finished 5-2. Arizona finished fifth at 3-4, California was sixth with a 2-5 record, and Oregon and Arizona State tied for seventh place with 1-6 marks. The Huskies' four wins came over each of the four teams beneath them in the standings.