No. 11 Huskies Aim For Pac-10 Title In Regular Season Finale At Oregon
April 14, 2005
- THIS WEEK: The Pac-10 leading Washington men's tennis team goes for at least a share of the conference championship in its regular season finale against the rival Oregon Ducks. The 11th-ranked Huskies (17-4, 5-1 Pac-10) have never finished higher than fourth in the current conference format, which was adopted in 1998. Washington and UCLA are currently tied atop the Pac-10 with one match left for each team. The Bruins face USC, while the Huskies travel to Eugene this weekend to face the No. 66 Ducks (8-14, 1-5 Pac-10). The Huskies and Ducks square off on Saturday, April 16, at 2 p.m.
SCOUTING OREGON: The Ducks snapped an 11-match losing streak with a 5-2 win in their last match against Arizona. It was the first conference win for Oregon who now owns a record of 8-14, and 1-5 in Pac-10 play. They also lost to Arizona State last weekend by a 5-2 score. The Huskies easily defeated the Ducks, 6-1, in a non-conference dual earlier this season in Seattle. UW took the doubles point and five singles matches in straight sets. Oregon's point came thanks to Sven Swinnen, who took out Alex Vlaski in three sets at No. 1 singles. Swinnen is currently ranked 14th in singles. The Huskies have faced the Ducks more than any other team, sporting a 108-6-1 all-time edge.
LAST TIME OUT: The Huskies asserted themselves at the top of the conference standings with a pair of wins over Arizona and Arizona State. On Friday, the Huskies swept doubles play against the Wildcats, in cluding an 8-5 win for Daniel Chu and Alex Slovic over the 19th-ranked duo of Colin O'Grady and Roger Matalonga. Slovic beat O'Grady for a 2-0 Husky lead, but Arizona came back to tie the match with wins at first and sixth singles. At No. 3 singles, Christoph Palmanshofer won the first set 6-1 over Daniel Andrus but trailed 5-2 in the second set. Palmanshofer then rallied to force a tiebreak, where he won 7-3. Andy Kuharszky clinched the win at No. 5 singles, roaring back from a first set loss against Bruno Alcala to win the final two sets, 6-0 and 6-1. Chu's No. 4 singles match was then suspended. On Sunday, the Huskies took the doubles point again against Arizona State with wins at the first and second positions. It was Senior Day, and UW's senior trio of Palmanshofer, Alex Vlaski, and Peter Scharler each came through with straight set singles wins. Palmanshofer's win was the clincher for Washington as he duplicated his Friday performance, winning the first set, 6-1, over Jonathan Kinsella, before falling behind 5-2 again in the second set. Once again, Palmanshofer fought back and forced a tiebreak, in which he saved four set points before winning 12-10. The Huskies then stretched their lead with Chu winning a third-set super-tiebreak at fourth singles and Slovic winning 6-4 in the third set against Clint Letcher at No. 2 singles. Slovic and Palmanshofer were both 2-0 in singles and doubles over the weekend.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: In Tuesday's ITA Team Rankings, Washington rose one spot to a new season-high No. 11 ranking. In the April 5 ITA Singles and Doubles Rankings, Alex Vlaski broke into the top-20 for the first time this year, coming in now at No. 19. Alex Slovic, climbed five spots to No. 29, while Christoph Palmanshofer made the biggest leap, up 18 spots from No. 75 to No. 57. The doubles team of Slovic and Daniel Chu, burst into the rankings at No. 27. Slovic and Andy Kuharszky also are now ranked 49th in doubles, despite not playing together since March 7.
VLASKI ZEROES IN ON WINS RECORD: Senior All-American Alex Vlaski is on his way to cementing himself as the greatest player in Washington history. The Belgrade, Yugoslavia native currently needs four more wins to tie the career singles wins record currently shared by former Huskies Matt Hanlin and Chet Crile. Vlaski's career record of 104-30 is the second highest singles winning percentage in UW history at .776. In all likelihood, the career wins record would already be Vlaski's alone, except he took this year's fall season off to play professionally and raise his world ranking. Vlaski was unranked at the start of the spring season, yet has already climbed up to 19th. Based on the current rankings, Vlaski has wins over four top-20 players this year, including San Diego's Pierrick Ysern (9), USCs Jamil Al-Agba (10), Pepperdine's Pedro Rico (13), and Cal's Conor Niland (16). Winner of the 2003 All-American Championships, Vlaski is the only Husky to earn All-American honors in two separate years: 2003 and 2004.
PALMANSHOFER BREAKS THROUGH: Key to the Huskies' success this year has been the stellar season turned in by senior Christoph Palmanshofer. After a preseason No. 61 ranking as a junior, Palmanshofer had an up and down season, finishing 12-10 in dual play and dropping from the rankings. This year, Palmanshofer began the season ranked 88th, and has maintained a solid presence in the rankings with his excellent performance in dual play. Palmanshofer, a native of St. Georgen, Austria, leads the Huskies with a 15-5 dual record and his 21 singles wins is a team high. He has five wins over ranked opponents this year. Palmanshofer has been ranked as high as 37th this season, a career high, and is currently No. 57. The senior started dual play with a 10-0 record, and recently provided the clinching wins in key conference duals against California and Arizona State.
UP NEXT: The Huskies head to Ojai, California to compete in the Pac-10 singles and doubles championships next weekend. The prestigious tournament runs from Thursday through Sunday, April 21-24. Alex Vlaski was a finalist his freshman and sophomore seasons and a semifinalist last year.