23rd-Ranked Men's Tennis Preps for Eastern Washington
March 11, 2008
THIS WEEK: With just two matches remaining before Pac-10 play begins, the 23rd-ranked Washington men's tennis team hosts Eastern Washington this Friday, March 14, at 4 p.m. Based on current weather forecasts, the match will likely be played indoors at the Nordstrom Tennis Center. The Huskies (10-4) have won five matches in a row and entered the Top-25 for the first time this season in this week's ITA Rankings.
SCOUTING EASTERN WASHINGTON: The Eagles are flying high on the wings of a program-best nine-match winning streak. They are 9-2 overall and 3-0 in Big Sky Conference play. Eastern's first two losses came again Oregon, 6-1, and BYU, 4-3. Despite the 6-1 score, Eastern's loss to Oregon included three three-set singles matches and two doubles matches went to tiebreaks. Pannhara Mam plays No. 1 singles for Eastern and got a win over Oregon's Alexander Cornellisen. The Huskies and Eagles played last year in UW's season opener, and Washington was victorious, 6-1. The Huskies lead the all-time series, 5-0. Darren Haworth is in his first season as interim head coach of the Eagles.
LAST TIME OUT: The Huskies scored one of their biggest non-conference wins of the season, fending off a 43rd-ranked Pepperdine squad that figures to wind up much higher in the rankings. The Waves were the 2006 NCAA Champs and still feature several players from that squad. Several 4-3 losses to Top-20 teams dropped Pepperdine from No. 22 to No. 43 just before the teams met. Washington would hang another 4-3 loss on Pepperdine, however, coming back from a doubles point defeat to win four singles matches. Derek Drabble clinched the win, defeating Johannes de Villiers, 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-4 at fourth singles. His victory followed those of Patrik Fischer at No. 1, Andy Kuharszky at No. 3, and David Chu at No. 6. Fischer upset 19th-ranked Andre Begemann in convincing fashion, 6-2, 6-3, for his first win over a Top-20 player, while Kuharszky's 6-4, 6-4 win also came over a ranked opponent: No. 97 Omar Altmann. Two days later, the Huskies were focused from start to finish against the University of the Pacific, sweeping the Tigers 7-0. Washington did not drop a set in singles or doubles. Martin Kildahl got his second start in singles, defeating Chase Oliphant, 6-2, 6-2. Kildahl and Tobi Obenaus also were 2-0 at No. 3 doubles over the weekend, running their winning streak to seven. It was Washington's fifth sweep of the season.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Freshman Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan entered the ITA singles rankings for the first time during the regular season last week, reaching No. 82. Nedunchezhiyan was ranked 106th at the start of the fall season before having played a collegiate match. The native of Chennai, India has won seven of his past 10 matches, including wins over then-No. 17 Nate Schnugg of Georgia, and then-No. 95 Blake Strode of Arkansas to help boost him in the rankings. Neduncezhiyan is the first Husky freshman to be ranked since Alex Slovic in 2003, who went on to become UW's all-time combined wins leader. As a team, the Huskies climbed five spots to No. 23 this week, their highest ranking of the year. The Dawgs began the season ranked 37th, making their biggest jump from 36th to 27th following the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, where they upset then-No. 10 Alabama.
KUHARSZKY CLIMBS THE CHARTS: Senior captain Andy Kuharszky has been a four-year stalwart in the Husky singles and doubles lineups, and this year has seen him place his name in the recordbooks alongside some of the greats in Husky history. With two singles wins and one doubles wins this past weekend, Kuharszky reached 80 singles wins and 74 doubles wins for his career. The 80 wins in singles moves him past Ornello Arlati (1993-96) and Scott Pearson (1980-83) into eighth-place on the career list, and he drew closer to the doubles wins record of 83, set last year by departing seniors Daniel Chu and Alex Slovic. With 154 combined victories, Kuharszky tied Chu for fifth in Washington history, and passed former All-American Chet Crile (1990-93) who earned 153 wins.
FISCHER FINDS GROOVE: Ascertaining just who would hold down the No. 1 singles spot this season for the Huskies was one of head coach Matt Anger's toughest tasks in the fall. Now on the verge of conference play, it has become clear that junior Patrik Fischer was the right man for the job. Playing No. 1 in 12 of UW's 14 matches thus far, Fischer is 7-4 with one DNF against Illinois in a match he was leading. Based on the current rankings, Fischer has wins over three ranked opponents, highlighted by his upset of 19th-ranked Andre Begemann of Pepperdine last Friday. Fischer has also defeated 94th-ranked Syketh Maneni of Alabama and No. 121 Kiryl Harbatsiuk of Sacramento State in the fall. He has taken care of business efficiently as well, going 15-1 against unranked players based on the current rankings. All four of his dual losses have come at the hands of players currently ranked No. 31 or higher.
HUSKIES NET CONFERENCE HONORS: Washington has already claimed two Pac-10 Men's Tennis Player of the Week awards this season. Senior Andy Kuharszky was named Player of the Week for Feb. 25-March 2. Washington's senior captain, Kuharszky was instrumental in a 4-3 team dual victory over Oregon as he and partner Derek Drabble helped the Huskies sweep the doubles point with an 8-4 victory over Alexander Cornelissen and Ric Mortera and then in singles Kuharszky rolled Cornelissen 6-1, 6-2. On March 1, in a neutral court match against No. 59 Denver in Eugene, Ore., Kuharszky rolled again in straight sets over David Simson, 6-3, 7-6 (5) as the Huskies picked up the victory against a ranked opponent. It is the first career Player of the Week award for Kuharszky, but was the second in as many weeks for the Huskies, as freshman Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan picked up his first award the week of Feb. 18-24. 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). Washington now has five all-time Player of the Week awards to its credit.
UP NEXT: The Huskies play their final non-conference match during spring break in Palm Springs next week. Washington will stay sharp with a neutral site match against Santa Clara. First serve is set for Tuesday, March 25 at 11 a.m. Pac-10 play opens up later that week as UW hosts UCLA and USC in Seattle.
FOLLOW ALONG LIVE: GoHuskies.com provides live video and live scoring updates for those Husky fans unable to make the trip to the Nordstrom Tennis Center or Bill Quillian Stadium. The video streams will focus on the No. 1 singles match and also cover the No. 3 singles match when possible indoors. Links to streaming video can be found by going to the women's tennis schedule on GoHuskies.com, and clicking on that day's match.
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 227 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.