Conor Niland Selected Pac-10 Player of the Year
May 8, 2006
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - California senior men's tennis player Conor Niland was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year and selected to the first team. Junior Tyler Browne earned second-team honors, announced by Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hanson on Monday.
Niland, currently ranked-sixth by the ITA, finished with a 22-2 record in the dual season and three Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. Niland went undefeated at home this season. On Senior Day then-third-ranked Niland extended his winning streak to 19-0, which was the best in the country. He 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.
Niland sufferered his first dual-match loss to Washington's Alex Slovic in two sets, 7-5, 6-1 on April 26. Niland bounced back advancing to the semifinals of the Pac-10 tournament. But he lost to the eventual Pac-10 singles champion, Stanford's Matt Bruch.
The Limerick, Ireland, native 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. 41 Niland defeated then-No. 3 Kohlloeffel in two sets, 6-3, 6-2, on Feb. 2, in Berkeley. Niland also notched major wins over topped opponents including then-fourth-ranked Lars Poerschke of Baylor, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3, and then-No. 11 Niland defeated then-fourth-ranked Scott Doerner of Pepperdine in two sets, 6-4, 6-3.
Niland earned a sixth seed in the NCAA Singles Championships that will be held during May 24-29 at the Taube Tennis Center in Stanford, Calif., following the team championships on May 20-23.
Browne, ranked No. 89 by the ITA, picked up his biggest victory this season with a win over then-15th-ranked Bruch in the last home dual match of the season. Browne, who had a 12-5 record on the second court, defeated Bruch in three sets, 6-7, 7-6, 6-1. Browne injured his hip flexor in the final dual match against Washington and was unable to play in the Pac-10 Championships, but he will play in the NCAA Championships and will team with Niland in the NCAA Doubles Championships.
Niland's Player of the Year award is only Cal's second in school history. The only other Cal player to earn the award was Randy Nixon in 1983. Niland and Browne's inclusions on the all-conference team were the 28th and 29th time a Golden Bear has been chosen to a team.
Niland and Browne will compete with the Bears in the NCAA Team Championships, which begin on Saturday, May 13, at 9 a.m. (PDT) with their first-round match against Santa Barbara at the Taube Tennis Center.