Men's Tennis Visits Eugene For Duals With Oregon and #59 Denver
Feb. 27, 2008
THIS WEEK: After facing five Top-25 teams in a three week span, the Washington men's tennis team looks to take that experience on the road to Eugene this weekend. The 27th-ranked Huskies (6-4) will look to earn their first wins away from home when they tackle the Oregon Ducks on Friday, Feb. 29, at 5 p.m., and the 59th-ranked Denver Pioneers on Saturday, March 1 at 2 p.m. Both matches will be played at Oregon's Student Tennis Center. The UW-Oregon match is the first of two meetings this season, and thus will not count towards Pac-10 standings.
SCOUTING OREGON: The Ducks are unranked and sporting a 6-5 record on the season. Oregon fell, 6-1, in its last match at UC Santa Barbara, a team the Huskies swept, 7-0. Prior to that match, however, the Ducks upset No. 63 UC Irvine, 5-1. Marcos Verdasco has played No. 1 singles for Oregon in all but one match and is 4-6 at the position. Alexander Cornelissen leads the team with a 6-5 dual record, and has played at least one match at every position from one through five. Oregon is a very young team, having only one upper-classmen in junior Mike Myrhed. They have six sophomores and two freshmen. Oregon was 10-14 last season and seventh in the Pac-10 with a 1-6 record. The Huskies twice beat the Ducks last year, 7-0 in Seattle and 6-1 in Eugene. Washington leads the all-time series 113-6-1. Nils Schyllander is in his second season as men's head coach.
SCOUTING DENVER: The Pioneers of Denver reside in the Sun Belt Conference and have put together a 9-1 start to the season, earning a No. 59 ITA Ranking. They have proven dangerous to higher-ranked squads, upsetting No. 40 Minnesota, No. 61 Nebraska, and No. 49 New Mexico. Denver's only loss was a 4-3 setback to then-No. 59 Middle Tennessee State. They bring a six-match win streak into Saturday's meeting with UW. Denver possesses one of the best senior players in the nation in 11th-ranked Adam Holmstrom. Holmstrom reached the semifinals of the ITA National Indoor Championships in the fall, defeating current No. 3 Travis Helgeson of Georgia and No. 10 Oleksander Nedovyesov of Oklahoma State en route to the semis. Holmstrom became the first D-I All-American in Denver history last season and was 32-6 overall. Second-year head coach Danny Westerman led the Pioneers to a 13-7 record last year and second place in the Sun Belt. He was named Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year. Holmstrom and fellow senior Niklas Persson are also the nation's No. 7 doubles team. Washington is 2-0 all-time against the Pioneers.
LAST TIME OUT: The Huskies turned in one of their most solid outings last Saturday, rolling over No. 62 Arkansas, 6-1, at the Nordstrom Tennis Center. The Huskies swept doubles and won the top five singles matches in straight sets. Freshman Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan ascended to the No. 1 singles spot for the first time, and took down 95th-ranked Blake Strode, 6-1, 7-6 (2). Strode is a two-time All-SEC Team member and reached the NCAA second round last year but could not keep up with Nedunchezhiyan's speed and variety. The day's quickest match came from a likely source. Junior Ryo Sekiguchi took every game from Bradwin Williams at No. 5 singles, a 6-0, 6-0 shellacking. Sekiguchi is now 9-1 in dual play and has won seven straight. UW continued to post straight-set wins through the middle of the lineup. Junior Patrik Fischer dispatched Colin Mascall, 6-2, 6-3 at second singles. Senior Andy Kuharszky downed Matthew Hogan, 6-4, 6-3 at No. 3, and sophomore Derek Drabble cruised past Christopher Nott, 6-2, 6-0 in the fourth singles position. Arkansas' lone point came at No. 6 singles, where Dmitry Lebedev overcame freshman Tobi Obenaus, 7-5, 6-4 in the day's last match. The Huskies ran out of the gates quickly in doubles, led by their freshman pair of Obenaus and Martin Kildahl, who defeated Lebedev and Hogan, 8-3 at No. 3. The point was then clinched at No. 1 doubles, where Fischer and Nedunchezhiyan knocked off Strode and Mascall, 8-4, in their first match at the top spot. Drabble and Kuharszky completed the doubles sweep with a tiebreak win at the No. 2 spot.
DAWG BITES: The Huskies held firm in this week's ITA Rankings at their season-high of 27th. It's their highest ranking since March 20 of last season when they were also No. 27. UW ended 2007 ranked 35th, and began 2008 at No. 37, having now climbed 10 spots. The Huskies have already faced five Top-25 teams this season, and four Top-15 teams, and have three more Top-25 matches awaiting them based on the current schedule. The Huskies are 1-4 vs. Top-25 competition, defeating No. 10 Alabama. They will host No. 22 Pepperdine on March 7, and No. 6 UCLA and No. 7 USC on March 28th and 29th, respectively. Washington's singles depth has been evidenced by its 14-3 combined record at Nos. 5 and 6 singles thus far. Ryo Sekiguchi leads the team with an 9-1 dual record, has won seven in a row, and is 4-0 at No. 6 singles and 4-1 at No. 5. Derek Drabble also owns a 2-0 record at No. 5 singles. UW's doubles lineup is starting to solidify, with the new team of freshmen Martin Kildahl and Tobi Obenaus playing well at No. 3, and junior Patrik Fischer and freshman Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan moving to the No. 1 spot. Fischer and Nedunchezhiyan are 5-1 in dual play, and Kildahl and Obenaus have won their past three, including wins against teams from Alabama and Illinois.
UP NEXT: The Huskies return to Seattle for two more non-conference duals, and will add another Top-25 foe to its growing list of talented opponents. Washington hosts 22nd-ranked Pepperdine on Friday, March 7 at 3 p.m., and then welcomes Pacific to the Nordstrom on Sunday, March 9, at 12 p.m.
NEDUNCHEZHIYAN NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Freshman Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan has been named Pac-10 Men's Tennis Player of the Week for Feb. 18-24, Commissioner Tom Hansen announced earlier this week. Nedunchezhiyan, playing out of the No. 1 position for the first time in his young career, knocked off 95th-ranked Blake Strode of No. 62 Arkansas in straight sets 6-1, 7-6 (2). The move to the top of the Washington lineup marks the first time since 2002 that a freshman has held the top position. Nedunchezhiyan, with partner Patrik Fisher, also ascended to the top double's position and defeated Strode and partner Colin Mascall, 8-4. This is the first Pac-10 Player of the Week award for Nedunchezhiyan and the fourth for the Washington men's team.
FALL RECAP: Three tournaments highlighted Washington's fall schedule, and the Huskies could be pleased with the results at each event. The centerpiece of the fall schedule was the ITA Northwest Regionals, which UW hosted at the Nordstrom. Senior Andy Kuharszky showed just how far he's come since he lost in the first round of the same tournament as a freshman, as he marched through to the final. Kuharszky came points away from the title, but lost in a third-set tiebreak to Stanford's Richard Wire. Patrik Fischer had the most consistent fall, reaching the singles final at the Bulldog Classic in Fresno, and the semis of the Chandler Cup in Berkeley. Junior David Chu led the team with 10 wins in the fall, while Kuharszky, Fischer, junior transfer Ryo Sekiguchi, and freshman Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan all had at least seven singles wins.
HEAD COACH Matt Anger: Thirteen years have passed since Matt Anger took the helm of the UW men's tennis program, and in that time he has established the program as a perennial national power. Not only has Washington markedly improved in records and national rankings since his arrival, the Huskies have advanced to the NCAA tournament every season since, including five Sweet 16 appearances in the last seven years. Anger, the 2005 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, has guided Washington to its best-ever stretch of Pac-10 finishes during the past three years: finishing tied for third in 2007 and 2006 and winning its first conference title in 2005. In the process, he has become the program's all-time winningest coach with 225 victories. Anger also mentored Washington's first three-time All-American and first national champion since 1924 in 2005 graduate Alex Vlaski. Vlaski won the 2003 ITA All-American Championship singles crown, becoming the first Husky to win a national title since Wallace Scott won the National Collegiate singles champion crown in 1924. Last season, Anger coached Alex Slovic to the NCAA Semifinals, the third different player (along with Vlaski in 2003 and Eric Drew in 1999) that has made the semis under Anger's guidance. Over the past 10 years, only Washington, Stanford, and Georgia have produced three different NCAA Singles Semifinalists. Anger played collegiate tennis at USC from 1982-84 and was a three-time All-American. Anger entered the pro ranks and played on the pro tour for eight years (1984-91). He earned his highest ATP singles ranking of No. 23 in the world in 1986. Anger reached the round of 16 at both the U.S. Open and Wimbledon in 1986, advanced to the third round of the Australian Open in 1985 and 1987, and also Wimbledon in 1987. He was also ranked the No. 1 junior in the world by Tennis Magazine in 1981.