Golden Bears Look To Rebound Against Visiting Utes In Saturday Afternoon Clash

Feb. 5, 2008


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vs. No. 70 Utah
Hellman Tennis Complex
Berkeley, Calif.
Sat. Feb. 9 - 1 p.m.

BEAR NOTES: The No. 28 California men's tennis team (3-3) will try to bounce back from a couple of tough losses as it takes on visiting No. 70 Utah this Saturday (Feb. 9) at 1 p.m. at Hellman Tennis Complex. The home match will be the last one for the Golden Bears until they return to face Penn on Mar. 11 (1:30 p.m.) Between the two home matches, the Bears will face Stanford, Arizona and Arizona State on the road and take part in the Pacific Coast Doubles Championships in La Jolla, Calif. from Feb. 29 through Mar. 2. Please check for updates and information.

LAST WEEK: Hosting the first Pac-10 schools on the dual schedule, the Bears took two tough losses against the No. 6 Trojans and then the No. 9 Bruins. Only the second meeting between Pac-10 schools counts towards tennis standings. With the threat of rain on Friday, the teams opted to start with singles matches. Things started off well for Cal as sophomore Kallim Stewart defeated No. 9 Robert Farah on the top-court 6-4, 6-2, giving the Bears a quick 1-0 lead over the Trojans. USC fought back, taking a win on court No. 2 to even up the score as junior Eoin Heavey fell 6-2, 7-5 to Kaes Van't Hof. Falling behind 2-1, the Bears got a shot of adrenaline when senior Pierre Mouillon upset the No. 43 player in the country, Gary Sacks on court three 6-4, 7-5. The Trojans would not be outdone that day however, winning the fifth match and clinching the 4-2 team victory as freshman Jaak Poldma defeated freshman Jonathan Dahan in a three-setter 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-3. With the match in the books, the teams chose not to play the doubles point. The Bears were originally slated to face UCLA on Saturday but heavy rains forced postponement of the match until Sunday. When the courts were dry enough to play on, the Bears came out strong and took the doubles-point as junior Geoff Chizever and freshman Pedro Zerbini defeated UCLA's Mathieu Dehaine and Holden Seguso 8-6. Cal did not fare as well in singles play however, dropping every match but one to allow UCLA to claim the 5-2 victory. The Bruins managed three quick wins before Dahan was unable to hold off Bruin junior Michael Look in the second set, falling 6-3, 7-5 in the clinching match. With two losses on the weekend, the Bears fell to 3-3 overall with a one-month stretch away from home looming on the horizon.

HOLDING COURT - NO. 70 UTAH: The Utes come to the bay area holding the No. 70 ranking with victories over Weber State and Utah State. In 33 meetings against Utah, Cal holds a 26-6-1 record, most recently defeating the Utes in 2004 by a 6-0 score. Utah head coach F.D. Robbins is a 2002 inductee to the Utah Tennis Hall of Fame and has compiled more than 275 wins in his 22 years at the helm. The Utes are led by senior Zach Ganger, who has 12 singles win this season against only three losses. Junior Wes Hancock isn't far behind Ganger with eight singles win. The Utes also have a formidable doubles game led by Ganger and freshman John Taylor. Although the two have not teamed for the two Ute wins, the duo is currently ranked No. 43 in the nation amongst doubles teams.

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 in 1997, he received his first coaching award in 1994 when he was named Wilson/ITA Regional Coach of the Year for guiding the Bears back to postseason play after Cal had missed the Big Dance the previous two seasons. Wright has compiled a 193-140 (.580) career record during his tenure in Berkeley. Last season, with a 14-10 overall record (4-3 Pac-10, tied for third), the Bears made their eighth consecutive postseason appearance in the NCAA Tournament, 13th of the 14 years under Wright's guidance. A four-year letterman during his collegiate career at Cal, Wright worked his way to the No. 1 singles and doubles positions in the Bears lineup before joining the men's professional tour in 1986.

BEARS IN THE RANKS: The Bears opened the season ranked No. 39 in the ITA NCAA Division I Men's Collegiate Tennis rankings but moved up to No. 26 after upsetting No. 11 Oklahoma State on the road in Tulsa, Okla. The Bears finished 2007 with the No. 42 ranking but have held the No. 2 ranking at the end of the season on four occasions, and the No. 3 spot on three occasions. Most recently, under the direction of head coach Peter Wright, the Bears were No. 4 to close the 2003 season after advancing to the NCAA Quarterfinal and compiling a 21-5 overall record. Cal won the National Championship in 1925 with a 4-1 record.

IMPORT MODEL: Senior captain Ken Nakahara leads by example and looks to have his Golden Bears ready for matches by firing them up with his intensity and passion for the sport. He put up 10 wins in fall individual tournaments including earning the Blue Flight title at the Chandler Cup. The senior also teamed with freshman Zach Gilbert to advance to the doubles final at the Fresno State Bulldog Classic.

DON'T YAWN ON MOULLON: Senior Pierre Mouillon was named the 2007 ITA West Region Player to Watch at the end of the 2006-07 season. Coming into the dual match play, Mouillon is ready to prove what made him all the rage last season, earning him a No. 14 preseason ranking in the fall.

NO HELMET NECESSARY: Junior Geoff Chizever is one-half of the Bears' most formidable doubles team no matter who he plays with. Chizever didn't always have a racquet in his hand though. He was a record-setting quarterback for Viewpoint High School in Calabasas, Calif. where he earned Liberty League MVP honors for four consecutive years (2001-04). His record-setting ways has his name at the top of the list in his former league for most touchdowns, most completions, most yards gained and best competition percentage for a career. On the court, Chizever teamed with freshman Pedro Zerbini this fall to top all Cal duos with a 10-2 record, winning the Chandler Cup doubles title and advancing to the doubles semifinal at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championship. To date, Chizever is 13-6 in doubles matches, 3-2 in dual match doubles play.

HEAVEY LIFTING: Junior Eoin Heavey looks to shoulder a much larger load this season as he will play predominantly from court No. 3 in singles but will also be asked to contribute his talents in doubles. Already, Heavey has proven his mettle, clinching the upset win for the Bears against No. 11 Oklahoma State on the road with a 6 -3, 4-6, 7-5 victory over No. 77 Dmytro Petrov on Jan. 20.

BO KNOWS: Freshman Bozhidar Katsarov won more singles matches than any Bear in fall tournaments. His 13-4 mark in individual tournament play earned him singles titles at the Fresno State Bulldog Classic and the Chandler Cup. His play at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championship helped him advance to the singles semifinal. In dual matches, Katsarov will contribute from the fourth court for the Bears and has already upped his total wins to 16 as a freshman.

IT'S IN THE BLOOD: Freshman Zach Gilbert is the son of former tennis pro, television commentator and current tennis coach Brad Gilbert. The elder Gilbert won 20 singles titles as a pro and reached a world ranking of No. 4 in 1990. As a coach, Gilbert has tutored many internationally renowned stars including Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray.

FALL 2007 TOURNAMENTS: The Golden Bears emerged from the fall tournament season with a 64-46 record in singles matches, and notched 25 wins in doubles play. In solo competition, freshman Bozhidar Katsarov led all Bears with 13 wins and only four losses on his way to claiming titles at the 2007 Fresno State Bulldog Classic and at the Cal Chandler Cup. Katsarov's four consecutive victories in Seattle, Wash. also helped him to advance to the singles quarterfinal at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championships. Senior captain Ken Nakahara had 10 wins including five-straight to capture the Blue Flight title at the Chandler Cup. Nakahara was also able to advance to the round of 32 at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championship. In doubles play, the duo of junior Geoff Chizever and freshman Pedro Zerbini experienced the most success, advancing to the semifinal at the 2007 Bulldog Classic before getting to the quarterfinal at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championship. The pair won the Chandler Cup doubles title with four strong wins to close out the fall season.

2006-07 SEASON RECAP: The Golden Bears completed the 2007 dual campaign with a 14-10 overall record and went 4-3 in Pac-10 Conference play to finish in a tie for third place and a No. 42 ITA national ranking. Cal went to the NCAA Championship Tournament for the eighth consecutive year, tying a school record and faced No. 26 Oklahoma in Stillwater, Okla. in the first round. The Sooners edged the Bears in a 4-3 win to end Cal's season. Junior Pierre Mouillon was the Pac-10's Player of the Week for the week of Mar. 19 and received All-Pac-10 Conference First Team honors. Mouillon was also named the ITA West Region's Player to Watch at season's end. Senior Tyler Browne was an All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention and fellow seniors John Petit and Daniel Sebescen made the 2007 Pac-10 All-Academic Second Team.

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