No. 24 California Heads to Los Angeles for NCAA Regionals
May 11, 2005
WHAT'S ON TAP: The No. 24 Golden Bears (11-9 overall, 5-2 Pac-10) will face San Diego State (17-5 overall, 5-0 MWC) in the first round of the NCAA Regionals at UCLA's Los Angeles Tennis Center on Saturday, May 14 at 9 a.m. The winner will face the victor of Saturday's other match between seventh-seeded UCLA (21-3) and Manhattan (16-4) on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. The winner advances to the Round of 16 in College Station, Texas, May 21-24.
2005 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: The NCAA Tennis Championship is the oldest recognized championship by the NCAA, dating to 1883. This year's NCAA Division I Men's Competition is being hosted by Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. First- and second-round competition will be conducted May 13-15 with the winner of each site advancing to the team championships at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. The teams will play a single-elimination tournament at 16 first- and second-round sites (four teams at each site) and the finals site (16-team bracket) to determine the national champion.
PAIR OF BEARS TO COMPETE FOR INDIVIDUAL TITLES: Conor Niland and Patrick Briaud were selected to compete for individual titles at the 2005 NCAA Championships, as announced by the NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Subcommittee on May 5. Niland, currently ranked No. 13 in the nation, recently advanced to the semifinals of the Pac-10 Individual Championships. The Limerick, Ireland native has been grouped in the 9-16 seed range. Niland will be joined by teammate and Cal captain Briaud in the doubles portion of the Championships. Briaud and Niland, who have an 18-13 overall record in doubles, are currently ranked No. 15 in the nation.
A TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE: From its founding in 1892, the men's tennis program has enjoyed a long and proud tradition of excellence. Cal has reached the NCAA finals five timeswinning the 1925 National Championship. The Bears have been ranked among the nation's Top 10 teams 21 times, including seven seasons in which they finished among the nation's top three. A total of 18 Cal players have won national championships, brining home a collective four singles and 14 doubles national titles.
SCOUTING THE AZTECS: The Azects earned an automatic berth after winning the 2005 Mountain West Conference Championship for the third time in four years, with a perfect 5-0 record in league play. Winners of 13 straight, San Diego State is making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2003, when they advanced to the second round before falling to Washington, 4-3. The Aztecs are coached by Gene Carswell (28-14, 2nd year), who was named the 2005 Mountain West Conference Men's Tennis Coach of the Year.
NILAND MOVING UP: Junior Conor Niland, ranked No. 13 in the nation in singles, is among the Top 15 players in the nation for the fourth consecutive week. The Limerick, Ireland, native has posted a 22-13 mark in singles this year, with five of those victories coming over opponents ranked nationally in the Top 25.
FRESHMAN SENSATION: Freshman Ken Nakahara is in the midst of quite an impressive debut season for the Bears. The first-year player from Miyazaki, Japan, leads Cal with 26 wins on the year. That mark includes a 13-6 record in dual matches while playing predominantly from courts five and six. Nakahara, who advanced to the Round of 16 at the ITA Regional Championships this fall, opened the spring season with a six-match win streak.
PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS SUMMARY: After posting a 5-2 record and matching their best Conference finish ever, 2nd place, the Bears traveled to Ojai, Calif., for the Pac-10 Individual Championships. Niland recorded three impressive wins, before falling in the semifinals of the singles main draw. The final of the singles invite draw was an all-Cal affair, with Nakahara defeating teammate Dean Wallace to capture the title.
PAC-10 AWARD WINNERS: Conor Niland was named first team All-Pac-10, as voted on by Conference coaches. Patrick Briaud and junior Lennart Maack were also recognized, both being named honorable mention All-Pac-10. Briaud, who last year with Niland was honored as the Pac-10 Co-Doubles Team of the Year, is 12-8 in dual matches. Lennart, a transfer from the University of the Pacific, is currently ranked No. 82 in the nation in singles.
THE REGION'S BEST: The Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced that Patrick Briaud will receive the ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship for the West Region. Also, teammate Conor Niland was named as the West Region's Player to Watch. National award winners will be announced May 25 in College Station, Texas during the NCAA Championships. The ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship goes to a player who has exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and leadership as well as high scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements. The ITA Player to Watch Award goes to a player who has an outstanding season and is expected to perform at a high level the rest of his or her career. This award's criteria also includes a player's sportsmanship and character.
RANKED BEARS: Final individual rankings will be released June 3, 2005. The latest ITA individual rankings (as of May 2, 2005): Singles Doubles Conor Niland - No. 13 (national) Patrick Briaud and Conor Niland - No. 15 (national) No. 8 (west region) No. 8 (west region) Lennart Maack - No. 82 (national) Daniel Sebescen - No. 27 (west region)
HALL OF FAME: Two former Cal tennis players, Marty Davis and Chris Dunk, who together formed one of the Bears' most prolific doubles teams, will be inducted into the Cal Athletics Hall of Fame this coming October. The doubles team of Davis and Dunk was beyond compare at Cal. Ranked No. 1 in the nation their senior season of 1980, they helped the Golden Bear tennis team to national Top 10 finishes in the NCAA Tournament four straight years, including a runner-up outdoor showing and a national indoor title in '80. After their Cal careers, the duo went on to rank among the Top 10 professional doubles teams in the world, as they advanced to the semifinals at the U.S. Open, and the quarterfinals at both Wimbledon and the French Open.
Head Coach Peter Wright: Considered one of the best teachers and tacticians in men's collegiate tennis, Peter Wright's coaching talent hasn't gone unnoticed. Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 2001 and 1997, he received his first coaching award in 1994 when he was named Wilson/ITA Regional Coach of the Year. Wright and the Bears have been a fixture in the NCAA Tournament almost every year since. The ninth coach in the 110-year history of Cal tennis, Wright has compiled a 159-118 (.574) career record during his tenure in Berkeley. Wright currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association as well as the Youth Tennis Advantage and the Arthur Ashe Tennis Foundation of the Bay Area. He established the Bear Trax program at Cal and is also currently the chairman of the NCAA men's tennis committee.
Assistant Coach Jun Hernandez: After spending three seasons as an assistant for the women's team, Jun Hernandez is in his third year as an assistant coach with the men's squad. While working with the women's team, the San Diego State alum earned the Northwest Region's ITA Women's Assistant Coach of the Year award in 2002. Hernandez also spent the summers of 2000, 2001 and 2002 as a hitting coach for professional tennis player Martina Hingis.
TODAY | 5:00pm PTLive