No. 12 Huskies Host NCAA First and Second Rounds
May 10, 2005
- THIS WEEK: The Pac-10 champion Husky men's tennis team will begin their foray into the NCAA Championships this weekend as they host first and second round action at Bill Quillian Stadium. Washington will be making their 11th-straight tournament appearance. The 12th-ranked Huskies (18-4) earned a No. 15 seed and will face Oral Roberts in the first round, Friday, May 13. The match will begin following the day's first match, which pits No. 21 USC against No. 44 SMU at 10 a.m. The winners of each match will face off on Saturday, May 14 at 2 p.m. with a berth on the line to the 16-team NCAA finals in College Station, Texas, May 21-24. This year marks the first time the Huskies have been selected to host an NCAA Regional.
SCOUTING ORAL ROBERTS: The Huskies will open up against the five-time defending Mid-Continent Conference Champion Oral Roberts Golden Eagles. Oral Roberts was 13-12 in the regular season and is riding an eight-match win streak. They were a perfect 6-0 in conference play, dominating their conference rivals by a combined score of 37-3. The Golden Eagles are 0-4 against teams in the NCAA field, losing to Texas Tech, Auburn, and twice to Oklahoma. The Red Raiders of Texas Tech were a common opponent, as the Huskies were upset 4-3 by Tech, while the Golden Eagles were swept, 7-0. Oral Roberts senior Wessel Kemp was named the Mid-Con Player of the Year, while first year Head Coach Chris Milliron was named Mid-Con Coach of the Year. Oral Roberts holds a 2-1 all-time edge over Washington.
SCOUTING USC: The 21st-ranked Trojans of USC finished the regular season with an 11-12 record and were 3-4 in Pac-10 play. The Huskies outlasted the Trojans, 4-3, in the teams' dual on April 2. Five singles matches went to three sets, with senior Alex Vlaski clinching the win with a 6-7, 6-3, 6-2 win over USC's Jamil Al-Agba at No. 1 singles. Alex Slovic and Andy Kuharszky also notched UW singles wins and the Huskies captured the doubles point to aid in the victory. It was only the second win ever for Washington over USC. Al-Agba is currently ranked 19th, while senior Drew Hoskins is No. 55 and senior Johan Berg ranks 93rd. Al-Agba and Berg are No. 35 in doubles while Hoskins and Adam Loucks rank 52nd as a duo. The Huskies and Trojans have never met in NCAA action.
SCOUTING SMU: The Mustangs of Southern Methodist are currently 44th in the ITA Rankings with a record of 15-12. They will be making their ninth-straight NCAA appearance. Washington and SMU played three common opponents this season. Both squads defeated Minnesota, UW by a 4-0 margin and SMU winning 4-3. Each team lost to Pepperdine, the Huskies losing 4-3 and the Mustangs falling 6-1. California was the final common foe, with UW posting a 4-3 win while the Golden Bears defeated the Mustangs, 6-1. SMU has one doubles team in the rankings; Paul McNaughton and Federico Murgier at No. 46. Washington is 0-2 all-time against SMU.
TOURNAMENT HISTORY: Washington has been an NCAA tourney participant every season since 1995. Seven of the past eight years the Huskies have advanced at least to the second round, only losing in the first round in 2000. From 2001-03, the Huskies reached the Round of 16 each year, their best ever finish. The Huskies have never hosted an NCAA Regional prior to this year. In 2001-03, the UW won their regional in Boston, Mass., Stanford, Calif., and San Diego, Calif., respectively. Last year, the Huskies won their opener against New Mexico (4-0) before falling to host-school Stanford in the second round (4-2). Washington is 10-10 all-time in NCAA dual matches.
TRIO TO COMPETE IN NCAA INDIVIDUAL TOURNEY: Three Huskies were selected to participate in the individual singles and doubles portion of the NCAA Men's Tennis Championships. Senior Alex Vlaski and sophomore Alex Slovic will each compete in the singles draw, while Slovic and sophomore Daniel Chu will team up to play in the doubles competition. Vlaski will be making his fourth NCAA singles apperance. He reached the semifinals as a sophomore in 2003 and knows what it takes to win a national title, having won the ITA All-American Championships in 2003. Vlaski earned the No. 8 seed in the 64-player field. Slovic will be making his second-straight NCAA singles apperance after advancing to the second round as a freshman last year. It will be his first chance in the doubles draw. Chu's doubles selection is the second of his career after making the trip with Vlaski last season, but the pair lost in the first round.
VLASKI SETS WINS RECORD: Senior All-American Alex Vlaski now stands alone atop the Washington career singles wins list. The Belgrade, Yugoslavia native surpassed the record of 108 wins formerly shared by former Huskies Matt Hanlin and Chet Crile during his run to the finals at the Pac-10 Championships. Vlaski's career record of 109-31 is the second highest singles winning percentage in UW history at .778. Vlaski was unranked at the start of the spring season, yet has already climbed up to sixth. Based on the current rankings, Vlaski has seven wins over top-25 players this year, including Oregon's Sven Swinnen (No. 9), San Diego's Pierrick Ysern (No. 10), two wins over Cal's Conor Niland (No. 13), USC's Jamil Al-Agba (No. 19), Texas Tech's Radek Nijaki (No. 20), , and Pepperdine Pedro Rico (No. 25). Winner of the 2003 All-American Championships, Vlaski is the only Husky to earn All-American honors in two separate years: 2003 and 2004.
PAC-10 TITLE: By completing their Pac-10 slate with a 6-1 mark, the 2005 Washington men's tennis team earned a share of its first Pac-10 title and secured their place in Husky history. Since the Pac-10 north and south divisions merged in 1998, the Huskies had never finished higher than fourth in the conference, and no school other than Stanford, USC or UCLA had taken the conference crown. The Huskies finished in a first-place tie with the Bruins at 6-1. Washington made their move early on, sweeping Stanford and California in the first week of Pac-10 play to announce themselves as a legitimate contender. The Huskies handled the Cardinal, 5-2, in the conference opener, for only their third series win over Stanford. A dramatic 4-3 win over Cal was one of the year's turning points, as seniors Alex Vlaski and Christoph Palmanshofer both won third-set tiebreaks within seconds of each other to pull out the win. A disappointing 5-0 loss to UCLA was followed by a thrilling 4-3 upset of USC. Again, just the win itself was historic in that it was only Washington's second win over the Trojans in 22 tries. The Huskies then took care of business in their final three matches, holding off Arizona, 4-2, then downing Arizona State and Oregon by 6-1 scores. Against Stanford, Cal, USC, and Arizona State, prior to this season the Huskies were a combined 14-89.
HUSKIES REACH SINGLES, DOUBLES FINALS AT PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS: After achieving the team's first Pac-10 title, the Huskies were looking to add more hardware to their mantle at the individual Pac-10 Championships, April 21-24 at Ojai, Calif. The Huskies fell just short of completing a rare trifecta of titles, as senior Alex Vlaski lost in the singles final and sophomores Alex Slovic and Daniel Chu lost in the doubles final. Stanford's Sam Warburg was the common factor in hampering the Huskies' hopes. Warburg sent Vlaski to a third loss in the Pac-10 final, pulling out a 7-5, 7-5 win for his second-straight Pac-10 singles title. Warburg then teamed with KC Corkery to take out Slovic and Chu, 8-6, in the doubles final. For Vlaski, a third loss in the finals was tough to take, but he could take solace in his semifinal win over Cal's ninth-ranked Conor Niland, which was the 109th singles win of Vlaski's career, setting a new Washington record. Furthermore, the 15 wins Vlaski posted in his four years at the Ojai stand as a career best for any college player. Other strong showings were turned in by Slovic in the singles draw, who nearly ousted Warburg in the quarterfinals, losing in a third-set tiebreak to the eventual champ. Senior Peter Scharler also advance to the quarterfinals of the Invitational singles draw.
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 16-5 dual record and his 22 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. 65. 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.
SLOVIC RETURNS TO FORM: Sophomore Alex Slovic's freshman season was going to be tough to top. The native of Pancevo, Yugoslavia finished as the highest-ranked freshman in the country at No. 27, and was named ITA National Rookie of the Year. His sophomore campaign picked up where the previous season had finished, as Slovic beat four ranked opponents en route to claiming the consolation bracket at the All-American Championships in the fall. However, a rib injury sidelined Slovic at the start of the dual season, and then suffered some uncharacteristic losses upon his return, and was only 4-3 through his first seven dual matches. Since that point, however, Slovic has worked himself back into form, and reeled off nine straight wins before barely losing in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Championships in a third-set tiebreak to eventual champion Sam Warburg of Stanford. Slovic was a perfect 6-0 in conference play, dropping only one set. He also continues to excel on the doubles court in his young career. Already Slovic has appeared in the doubles rankings with four different partners over the past two years, including his current 18th-ranked pairing with Daniel Chu.
DOUBLES TAKES SHAPE: The Huskies seem to have found the right formula for doubles success recently. Their current line-up has produced a 6-2 record in the doubles point. The No. 1 doubles team of sophomores Alex Slovic and Daniel Chu quickly gelled into one of the hottest duos in the country, taking down four top-40 teams in first six dual matches together, including an 8-1 rout of defending NCAA Champions KC Corkery and Sam Warburg of Stanford. Slovic and Chu reached the final of the Pac-10 Championships doubles tournament, and are currently ranked 18th in the nation. Also impressive has been the play of Alex Vlaski and Christoph Palmanshofer at No. 2 doubles. The senior pair are 6-1 at second doubles in the new line-up and 5-1 in Pac-10 duals. Their 11-5 mark is the most wins for any Husky tandem. Anchoring the No. 3 doubles spot over the past seven dual matches has been sophomore Mike Ricks and freshman Andy Kuharszky. Kuharszky and Ricks are 6-6 at third doubles, picking up big wins against Stanford and Arizona. Washington is now 15-7 in the doubles point.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: The Huskies have hovered just outside the top-ten of the ITA Rankings recently, settling now at No. 12. Continuing to rise through the singles rankings is senior Alex Vlaski, who is back in the top-10 at a season-high No. 6 rank. Vlaski has steadily risen through the rankings after being unranked at the start of dual play. His career high came last year when he achieved a No. 2 national rank. Sophomore Alex Slovic ranks 44th in singles while senior Christoph Palmanshofer is the third ranked Husky, coming in at No. 65. In the May 2 doubles rankings, Slovic and sophomore Daniel Chu earned a No. 18 on the heels of their run to the Pac-10 doubles final.