Huskies Host Oregon In Regular Season Finale
April 16, 2008
THIS WEEK: With just one match remaining before postseason play begins, the No. 32 Washington men's tennis team looks to break out of a three-match losing streak in its home finale against the Oregon Ducks. The Huskies (13-9, 1-5 Pac-10) will thank senior Andy Kuharszky prior to the 1:30 p.m. match on Saturday. Kuharszky is a four-year starter in singles and ranks seventh on the UW career singles wins list. Weather conditions will determine if the match will be played outdoors at Quillian Stadium or inside the Nordstrom Tennis Center. Admission for all fans is free.
SCOUTING OREGON: The Huskies came away from Eugene with a 4-3 win in the two teams' non-conference meeting earlier this season. In that match, Washington won the doubles point and the top three singles matches, but Oregon prevailed in the lower three. Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan clinched the win with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 2 singles over Francisco Gallardo. Patrik Fischer was a 6-3, 6-1 winner over Marcos Verdaso at No. 1, and Andy Kuharszky had an easy win at third singles. Oregon lost 5-2 in its last match against Stanford, winning the doubles point and getting a point at No. 3 singles where Alexander Cornelissen defeated Blake Muller. The loss dropped the Ducks to 0-6 in conference and 11-13 overall. Washington leads in the all-time series 114-6-1.
LAST TIME OUT: The road continued to be unkind to the Huskies, as they lost two matches in the Bay Area last weekend. On Friday, Washington visited 28th-ranked Stanford, and took the doubles point but fell in five of six singles matches for a 5-2 loss. Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan was the only Husky to win in singles play, upsetting 67th-ranked Matt Bruch, 6-3, 6-1. Bruch is the two-time defending Pac-10 Singles Champ. The Huskies were within range at third and fourth singles, but both first sets went to Stanford in tiebreaks, and the Cardinal won close second sets as well. It was the first time this season UW lost after winning the doubles point. A similar doubles win would have swung Saturday's match in the Huskies' favor, but Cal won the early point and eventually the match, 4-3. Patrik Fischer defeated 92nd-ranked Kallim Stewart at the No. 1 spot, Andy Kuharszky cruised against Eoin Heavey at No. 3, and Martin Kildahl pulled out a 6-4 third-set victory at No. 6 singles, but Cal's Pierre Mouillon stepped up with the match tied at 3-3, and defeated Nedunchezhiyan, 6-7, 6-2, 6-3. Over the weekend, Fischer and Nedunchezhiyan led the way in doubles, going 2-0 from the No. 1 spot.
KUHARSZKY BOWS OUT: Senior captain Andy Kuharszky has been a four-year stalwart in the Husky singles and doubles lineups, and will be making his final home appearance against the Ducks on Saturday. The native of Budapest, Hungary has been a model of consistency during his career, posting a winning record in singles and doubles, overall and in dual play, in all four years. This year has seen him place his name in the recordbooks alongside some of the greats in Husky history. With one win in singles and doubles last week, Kuharszky reached 85 singles wins and 78 doubles wins for his career. The 85 wins in singles surpassed the career total of Marius Lunde (1998-01) for seventh place on the career wins list and is just one behind Eric Drew (1996-99) for sixth. Kuharszky also gained ground on the doubles wins record of 83, set last year by departing seniors Daniel Chu and Alex Slovic. With 163 combined victories, Kuharszky ranks fourth all-time, 12 combined wins behind Alex Vlaski (2001-05). Kuharszky also is the perfect example of the well-rounded student-athlete. A two-time Pac-10 All-Academic team member, Kuharszky has been team captain for three years running, and also was elected the president of the Washington Student-Athlete Advisory Council by a vote of his peers in all 23 sports.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Washington dropped out of the Top-25 in the latest ITA poll, falling seven spots to No. 32. The team has been ranked as high as No. 20, after beginning the season at No. 37. Based on the current rankings, the Huskies have wins over 14th-ranked Pepperdine, and 19th-ranked Alabama. All of UW's losses have come to teams currently ranked in the Top-40. Every Pac-10 team except Oregon is currently ranked in the Top-40, led by No. 4 USC and No. 5 UCLA. In the latest individual rankings, junior Patrik Fischer dropped four spots to No. 86, while freshman Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan claimed the last singles ranking at No. 125. Fischer debuted at a career-high No. 77 on March 18, while Nedunchezhiyan's high-water mark was No. 82 on March 4th. The native of Chennai, India has posted wins over then-No. 17 Nate Schnugg of Georgia, then-No. 67 Matt Bruch, 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.
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. As the season matured, it become clear that junior Patrik Fischer was maturing in the top spot right along with it. Playing No. 1 in 19 of UW's 22 matches, Fischer is 10-8 against many of the nation's elite, with one DNF against Illinois in a match he was leading. Based on the current rankings, Fischer has wins over four ranked opponents, highlighted by his upset of 9th-ranked Andre Begemann of Pepperdine. Fischer has also defeated 95th-ranked Syketh Maneni of Alabama, 82nd-ranked Matt Brooklyn of Arizona State, and 107th-ranked Kallim Stewart of California. The Switzerland native earned his first career singles ranking this season, jumping to a No. 77 ranking on March 18 that has since dipped slightly to No. 86. Fischer has taken care of business efficiently as well, going 17-1 against unranked players based on the current rankings. All of his dual losses have come at the hands of ranked players. One interesting note on Fischer is his lack of third sets this season. In 32 matches, Fischer has only played two third sets, going 1-1, and he had a streak of 24 straight-set matches earlier in the year, although his unfinished match against Illinois was in the third set when the match was halted.
HUSKIES NET CONFERENCE HONORS: Washington has 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 will make the traditional trip to Ojai, Calif. for the Pac-10 Championships, part of the Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament. The tournament crowns the conference singles and doubles champions. Play begins on Thursday, April 24 and runs through Sunday, April 27 at Libbey Park.
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 232 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.