No. 23 Men's Tennis Travels to the Pac-10 Championships

April 25, 2006

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The No. 23 California Golden Bears men's tennis team (14-6, 4-2 Pac-10) will travel to Santa Barbra to face No. 20 Washington on April 26, at 11 a.m. (PDT) at Libbey Park, before venturing to the Pac-10 Championships in Ojai, Calif. Last weekend, Cal played against Stanford in its final home match, losing to the Cardinal 5-2.

On Wednesday, April 26, Cal will make up the postponed Washington match scheduled earlier on March 31, but canceled due to poor weather. The No. 18 Washington Huskies will enter Friday's match with an 18-4 record. The Huskies last played against Oregon on Saturday, March 22, as they easily defeated the Ducks 7-0. Washington is led by No. 33 Alex Slovic, who boasts a 23-12 singles record in the first position. On the doubles courts for the Huskies, Slovic and Daniel Chu lead Washington.

The Pac-10's eight men's teams head to Ojai, Calif., Thurs., April 27 through Sun., April 30, to decide the league's singles and doubles champions. The 32-player men's singles draw shall consist of four student-athletes from each school, and the 16-team doubles draw shall consist of two doubles teams from each school. The Pac-10 competition will be held in conjunction with the 106th Annual Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament. The Pac-10 men will compete at Libbey Park in Ojai for all rounds. All semifinal and final matches on Sat., April 29, and Sun., April 30, are at Libbey Park. Matches begin at 8 a.m., with two rounds of singles on opening day. One round of singles and two rounds of doubles will be played on Friday. Semifinals and finals will be held at a time yet to be determined. The Ojai, as it is known in tennis circles, is the oldest amateur tennis tournament in the United States and has been interrupted only five years since its inception - in 1924 by hoof and mouth disease and four years during World War II. Pac-10 schools have competed in intercollegiate events in 95 of The Ojai's 105 tournaments beginning in 1911. Championship medals are awarded in both singles and doubles and the winners names are inscribed on permanent trophies displayed each year at the tournament.

The California men's tennis team concluded the Pac-10 Championships in Ojai, Calif., with freshman Ken Nakahara capturing the singles invite draw title. The Pac-10s, held in conjunction with the 105th Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament, decide the Conference's singles and doubles champions. In the final, Nakahara took on teammate Dean Wallace. The freshman picked up the singles title, defeating Wallace in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1. The Cal doubles team of Wallace and junior Lennart Maack faced Jeff Karazian and Kaes Van't Hof in the invite doubles final, falling in a close match to the Trojan team, 9-8(3). On the third day at the Pac-10 Individual Championships in Ojai, junior No. 9 Conor Niland wasn't able to advance to the finals in the main draw, falling to Alex Vlaski of Washington in three sets, 6-4; 1-6; 6-3. The invite draw will feature an all-Cal final on the final day, with Nakahara and junior Dean Wallace both notching wins in the semifinals. Nakahara, who faced Mathieu Dehaine of UCLA, was a three-set winner, 3-6, 6-0, 6-4. Wallace won in straight sets over teammate Tyler Browne, 6-4, 6-0. The Bears had a doubles team advance to the finals of the invite draw, with Maack and Wallace defeating Eric McKean and James Wan of Stanford, 8-5. On day two of the 2005 Pac-10 Championships, Niland recorded a convincing quarterfinal victory over USC's Kaes Van't Hof in the main draw, winning in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1. The invite draw continued to be dominated by the Bears, where three of the four semifinalists were from Cal. Wallace recorded a straight-set victory Mike Beatty of Arizona State, 6-0, 6-4. Nakahara came out ahead against Arizona's Claudio Christen in two sets, 7-6(5), 6-2. Browne recovered from dropping the first set to Washington's Peter Scharler, winning 5-7, 6-2, 6-4. In doubles play Maack and Wallace, who received a first-round bye in the invite draw, defeated Vladimir Pino and Eric Pickard, 8-5, to advance to the semifinals. Cal came out ahead in several hard-fought matches in the singles main draw Round of 32. Sophomore Daniel Sebescen recovered from dropping the opening set to Arizona State's Clinton Letcher, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1. Maack was also a three-set winner, defeating Chris Lam of UCLA, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3. Niland advanced to the Round of 16, defeating Daniel Chu of Washington in three sets, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1. The Bears won two of three Round of 32 matches in the invite draw. Nakahara defeated Michael Ricks of Washington, 6-0; 6-3, while Browne beat Stanford's Dave Ryan, 6-3, 6-1. Niland advanced to the quarterfinals, defeating Philipp Gruendler of UCLA, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2. Three Bears advanced to the quarterfinals in the invite draw. Nakahara defeated Jarryd Cooper of USC in straight sets, 6-2, 6-0. Wallace bounced back from dropping the first set against Andy Kuhzarzsky of Washington, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1. Browne earned a win over Francois Vandermerwe of Arizona in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2.

The Bears are No. 23 in the Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings, released Tuesday, April 18, by the ITA. Senior Conor Niland and Junior Tyler Browne are the only Bears ranked in the individual poll. Niland is No. 4 and Browne is No. 74. In doubles Niland and Browne rank tied for No. 31. The individual poll will be released again on April 25.

Cal will face some of the best competition in the nation at the Pac-10 Championships this weekend. Thirteen Pac-10 conference singles players are listed in the ITA Top-125 list. Cal's senior Conor Niland is ranked third and junior Tyler Browne is No. 74. UCLA's Benjamin Kohlloeffel is ranked first. Niland has recorded two victories over Kohlloeffel this season. On the doubles court, the Pac-10 has six ranked duos in the ITA Top-60 report. Niland and Browne are ranked tied for No. 31. UCLA's Philipp Gruendler and Kohlloeffel are ranked second, with Stanford's KC Corkery and James Pade ranked No. 15.

In the 19 dual matches this season Cal posted an impressive 14-6 record. This is the best start since the 2003 season, when the Bears went 15-1. That year the Bears were ranked No. 4 but lost to Stanford in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships.

On Senior Day then-third-ranked Niland extended his winning streak to 19-0. With his singles victory on Saturday, Niland closed out an undefeated homestand. The Limerick, Ireland, native defeated No. 26 K.C. Corkery in three sets. Niland won the first set, 6-4, but fell to Corkery 6-3 in the second. In the deciding set Niland breezed past Corkery, 6-2. A week before Niland swept both the first position Arizona players. Niland picked up his biggest win over UCLA's top-ranked Benjamin Kohlloeffel in two sets, 6-4, 6-3, on April 8. This was the second time this season he had recorded an upset over Kohlloeffel. The then-No. 41Niland defeated then-No. 3 Kohlloeffel in two sets, 6-3, 6-2, on Feb. 2, in Berkeley. On April 1, Niland collected his 14th win over Oregon's Markus Schiller, 7-5, 6-1. On March 26, Niland continued his streak, defeating No. 4 Scott Doerner of Pepperdine in two sets, 6-4, 6-3. On Feb. 26, Niland defeated then-fourth-ranked Lars Poerschke of Baylor, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3. Niland has been named men's tennis Pac-10 Player of the Week three times so far this season.

No. 4 senior Conor Niland currently holds the best winning streak in the country. Niland, who is 19-0, and expanded his winning streak with a win over K.C. Corkery of Stanford last weekend. Prior to this Niland was tied with Tulsa's No. 10 Arbau Brugues for the best winning streak in the country at 13-0 on the season.

No. 74 Junior Tyler Browne keyed in on his biggest victory this season with a win over 15th-ranked Matt Bruch of Stanford last weekend. Browne who 12-4 on the second court took three hotly contested sets for Browne to edge past Bruch. Browne lost the first set, 7-6, but rebounded and topped Bruch in the final two sets, 7-6, 6-1, recording a victory for the Bears in the second position.

Against Stanford the Golden Bears were able to play their first doubles match in over two weeks. Seniors Lennart Maack and Dean Wallace picked up a doubles win in the third position. However at first position doubles, the Bears seem to have their best match in senior Conor Niland and junior Tyler Browne. The duo has already posted an upset victory over the then sixth-ranked Baylor duo of Matija Zgaga and Jon Reckewey, 8-4, en route to a No. 42 ranking by the ITA and now tied for No. 31. The pair suffered its first lost this season to Arizona's Claudio Christen and Jeff Groslimond, 8-5 on March 10.

On Senior Day then-third-ranked senior Conor Niland extended his winning streak to 19-0, but the No. 23 Golden Bears could not find the remedy to slip past No. 15 Stanford, as they lost 5-2, at the Hellman Tennis Center in Berkeley. With his singles victory, Niland closed out an undefeated home stand. The Limerick, Ireland, native defeated No. 26 K.C. Corkery in three sets. Niland won the first set, 6-4, but fell to Corkery 6-3 in the second. In the deciding set Niland breezed past Corkery, 6-2. No. 117 junior Tyler Browne upset No. 15 Matt Bruch in three hotly contested sets. Browne lost the first set, 7-6, but rebounded and topped Bruch in the final two sets, 7-6, 6-1, recording a victory for the Bears in the second position. Senior Lennart Maack fell to James Pade, 6-2, 6-3, in the third position. In the fourth position, junior Daniel Sebescen lost to James Wan, 6-2, 5-7, 6-0. Sophomore Ken Nakahara was defeated by Blake Muller in the fifth position, 6-3, 7-5. Senior Dean Wallace fell to Phil Kao in the sixth position, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. On the doubles courts, Stanford picked up the point winning on both the first and second court. Cal's one victory in double was on the third court when the senior duo of Maack and Wallace defeated Wan and Jon Wong, 8-3. On the first court, No. 38 Niland and Bronwe fell to No. 26 Corkery and Pade, 8-4. In the second position, Sebescen and junior John Pettit lost to Bruch and Muller, 8-6.

On the 2005-06 men's tennis roster, the Bears host seven athletes from a different country other than the United States. Two are from Ireland, senior Conor Niland and freshman Eoin Heavey. Seniors Dean Wallace hails from Manila, the Philippines, and Lennart Maack is from Germany. Junior Daniel Sebescen is from Yugoslavia. Sophomore Ken Nakahara hails from Japan. Sophomore Vaclav Burger is from Czech Republic.

Considered one of the best teachers and tacticians in men's collegiate tennis, Peter Wright has developed a reputation for getting more out of his players than perhaps any coach in the country. Wright's coaching talent hasn't gone unnoticed. In 1997 and 2001 he was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year. 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 149-110 (.576) 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, which brings inner-city children from Oakland to Berkeley for academic tutoring with Cal students and tennis tutoring with the Cal men's and women's teams. Wright is also currently the chairman of the NCAA men's tennis committee. He is assisted by former Cal standout Patrick Briaud, who enters his first season.

Cal will next venture to the NCAA first and second round on May 12-13. Campus location and time to be determined by the NCAA.

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