Santa Clara, UCLA, and USC Make Busy Week for Men's Tennis
March 24, 2008
THIS WEEK: The 25th-ranked Husky men's tennis team takes a break from spring break this week to face Santa Clara in its last non-conference match of the season, before returning home to open Pac-10 play with No. 6 UCLA and No. 9 USC. First up, the Huskies and Broncos play at a neutral site in Palm Springs, Calif. on Tuesday, March 25 at 11 a.m. Back in Seattle on Friday, March 28, Washington and UCLA square off at 1:30 p.m. One day later, the Trojans challenge the Huskies at 1 p.m. Both home matches will be at the Bill Quillian Stadium, weather permitting.
SCOUTING SANTA CLARA: The Broncos have struggled to a 2-10 record and have lost five in a row. Their two wins came over Gonzaga and UC Santa Cruz. Sophomore Jay Wong plays No. 1 singles for Santa Clara and scored Santa Clara's only point against Marquette in their last match, defeating Trent Hagan, 6-4, 6-2. Wong was an All-WCC second team member as a freshman last year. Derek Mills is in his first season coaching the Broncos.
SCOUTING UCLA: The Bruins are once again one of the top teams in the nation, currently ranked sixth. UCLA is 12-1 and just completed a homestand where they defeated 13th-ranked Rice, 10th-ranked USC, and 11th-ranked Baylor. The Bruins' only loss came in Seattle, when they fell short against No. 1 Virginia, 4-3, in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. Senior Mathieu Dehaine is the highest-ranked Bruin at No. 21, although 30th-ranked Harel Srugo is the No. 1 singles player. Freshman Holden Seguso is also ranked No. 31. Junior Haythem Abid is also ranked No. 100 but has been injured throughout the dual season. Srugo and freshman Nick Meister are ranked 37th in doubles. Last season, UCLA defeated the Huskies 6-1 in Los Angeles on its way to an NCAA Quarterfinal appearance. However, Washington prevailed 4-3 the last time the two teams met in Seattle in 2006. Billy Martin is in his 15th season as Bruins coach.
SCOUTING USC: The ninth-ranked Trojans head to Seattle red hot after pulling two consecutive road upsets over Top-10 teams. USC upended No. 4 Texas, 4-3, last Thursday, then toppled No. 8 Tulsa, 6-1, on Saturday. USC is now 13-3 on the year. They will face Oregon in Eugene this Friday before traveling to Seattle. Sophomore Robert Farah has had a breakout year for USC and is currently ranked No. 7. Farah reached the final of the ITA All-American Championships in the fall. Senior Kaes Van't Hof plays No. 2 for USC and is ranked 46th. Also ranked is sophomore Gary Sacks at No. 54. Van't Hof and Farah are the No. 2 doubles team in the nation. USC swept the Huskies in L.A. last year, with UW winning the last meeting in Seattle in 2006, 4-3. Washington is 4-21 all-time vs. the Trojans. USC is coached by Peter Smith in his sixth season. Smith guided the Trojans to a 23-3 record last year and an NCAA Quarterfinal appearance.
LAST TIME OUT: Prior to breaking for finals week, the Huskies made quick work of their visitors from the east, sweeping Eastern Washington, 7-0, at the Nordstrom Tennis Center on March 14. Freshman Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan anchored the No. 1 singles spot for the Huskies, and was the first player heading to the net for the handshake after defeating Pannhara Mam, 6-2, 6-1. Senior Andy Kuharszky was a 6-4, 6-2 winner over Kyle Schraeder at No. 2 singles, and sophomore Derek Drabble polished off Nico Riego de Dios, 6-2, 6-3 in the third singles slot. Washington continued to dominate through the lower half of the singles lineup. Junior David Chu dispatched Kenneth Norling, 6-2, 6-2 at No. 4. Junior Ryo Sekiguchi snapped a three-match losing skid with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Art Karas in the five spot, and freshman Martin Kildahl improved to 3-0 in dual match play with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Jonathan Davis at No. 6. Washington also breezed through doubles play, highlighted by the eighth-consecutive win from freshmen pair Kildahl and Tobi Obenaus. The duo blitzed Riego de Dios and Karas, 8-1, at No. 3 doubles. Drabble and Nedunchezhiyan supplied an 8-3 No. 1 doubles win over EWU's Mam and Schraeder, and Brad Bator and Kuharszky moved to 3-0 in dual play, downing Patrick Millican and Davis, 8-6 in the No. 2 spot.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Junior Patrik Fischer's stellar play of late was rewarded with his first career singles ranking in the March 18 ITA Rankings. Fischer debuted at No. 77. The ranking was helped along by his win over 10th-ranked Andre Begemann of Pepperdine, as well as a win over Alabama's Saketh Myneni, now ranked 85th. Freshman Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan is also ranked, coming in at No. 94, down from his previous No. 82 ranking. The native of Chennai, India has won eight of his past 11 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 slipped two spots to No. 25 this week. 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 a win in singles and doubles against Eastern Washington, Kuharszky reached 81 singles wins and 75 doubles wins for his career. The 81 wins in singles draws him closer to the 83 wins of Marius Lunde (1998-01) who is in seventh place on the career wins list. Kuharszky also gained ground on the doubles wins record of 83, set last year by departing seniors Daniel Chu and Alex Slovic. With 156 combined victories, Kuharszky passed Chu for fifth in Washington history.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 15 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 two ranked opponents, highlighted by his upset of 10th-ranked Andre Begemann of Pepperdine. Fischer has also defeated 85th-ranked Syketh Maneni of Alabama. The Switzerland native was rewarded for his efforts of late by jumping into the rankings for the first time in his career, garnering a No. 77 ranking. Fischer has taken care of business efficiently as well, going 16-1 against unranked players based on the current rankings. All four of his dual losses have come at the hands of players currently ranked in the Top-25.
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: Pac-10 play continues for the men next weekend as they travel to take on the Arizona schools. Friday, April 4, UW will compete against the 51st-ranked Arizona Wildcats at 1:30 p.m. MST. Two days later on April 6 the Huskies will look to cool off the surprising Sun Devils of Arizona State, who are 12-0 and ranked 11th. First serve is scheduled for 12 p.m. MT.
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 230 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.