Huskies Head to Ojai for Pac-10 Championships

April 23, 2008

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THIS WEEK: Ojai, California is once again the site of the Pac-10 Championships, where the conference will crown its top singles and doubles players in conjunction with the Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament. The Huskies (14-9, 2-5 Pac-10) will have four players entered in the 32-player singles draw, and two doubles teams in the 16-team main doubles draw, as well as several entrants in the secondary invitational draws. The tournament runs from Thursday through Sunday, Apr. 24-27, with the main draw played at Libbey Park.

THE DRAW: Junior Patrik Fischer is the No. 6 seed in the singles draw, while senior Andy Kuharszky, sophomore Derek Drabble, and freshman Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan are also entered in the main draw. Fischer and Nedunchezhiyan, and Kuharszky and Drabble are also UW's two main doubles teams. In the Invitational draws, five Huskies are entered in singles, and two teams in doubles. First and second round matches in singles will both be played on Thursday, with one round each following day, while two rounds of doubles will be played Friday, then one each on Saturday and Sunday.

HUSKY MATCHUPS
Singles Main Draw - First Round

Andy Kuharszky (UW) vs. Harry Skinner (ASU), Thursday, 8 a.m.
(6) Patrik Fischer (UW) vs. Francisco Gallardo (ORE), Thursday, 9 a.m.
Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (UW) vs. Blake Muller (STAN), Thursday, 10:30 a.m.
Derek Drabble (UW) vs. Juan Carlos Rebaza (ASU), Thursday, 11:30 a.m.

Doubles Main Draw - First Round
Fischer/Nedunchezhiyan (UW) vs. Arango/Skinner (ASU), Friday, 9 a.m.
Drabble/Kuharszky (UW) vs. Alcala/Christen (ARIZ), Friday, 9 a.m.

Singles Invitational Draw - First Round
Ryo Sekiguchi (UW) vs. Geoffrey Chizever (CAL), Thursday, 8 a.m.
Tobi Obenaus (UW) vs. (3) Jason McNaughton (USC), Thursday, 9 a.m.
David Chu (UW) vs. Murilo Souza (ASU), Thursday, 10:30 a.m.
Martin Kildahl (UW) vs. Ahmed Ismail (UCLA), Thursday, 11:30 a.m.
Brad Bator (UW) vs. (2) Jonathan Dahan (CAL), Thursday, 11:30 a.m.

Doubles Invitational Draw - First Round
Kildahl/Obenaus (UW) vs. Kao/Zeller (STAN), Friday, 9 a.m.
Bator/Chu (UW) vs. (2) Piotrowski/Poldma (USC), Friday, 10 a.m.

REGULAR SEASON REDUX: For a team with six newcomers, just one senior, and one of the nation's most difficult schedules, the 2008 season figured to be a challenge. Now with the dust settling, the Huskies bear the marks of what they were from the start, a very talented but inexperienced team. Thrilling home victories over highly-ranked teams such as Alabama and Pepperdine were countered by struggles on the road, where the Huskies played four of their seven Pac-10 matches. Washington hosted the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in February, scoring a win over then-No. 10 Alabama, but losing close calls to No. 2 Georgia and No. 11 Illinois. From that point, the Huskies went on a seven-match win streak, including a 4-3 win over Pepperdine who is currently ranked 14th. Pac-10 play started at home against the conference's top two teams, UCLA and USC, and the Huskies struggled for the only time at home, losing 6-1 in both matches. From there UW picked up a road win at Arizona, but lost three straight conference road matches, the toughest a 4-3 defeat at Cal. Washington then bounced back with a sweep of the Ducks in their season finale to finish at 2-5 in Pac-10 play. Senior Andy Kuharszky led the team with 14 dual match wins, mostly at No. 3 singles, followed closely by the 13 of junior Patrik Fischer, who assumed the No. 1 singles spot and is currently ranked 86th. UW was 13-10 in the doubles point, and lost just one match after winning doubles, that coming at Stanford. Fischer and freshman Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, the top two singles players, comprised the top doubles tandem, going 7-6.

HUSKIES AT THE OJAI: The Huskies have a growing history of success at the Pac-10 Championships, continued last season by the finals appearance of senior Alex Slovic, who fell to Stanford's Matt Bruch in the title match. Current senior Andy Kuharszky reached the second round of the main draw last year, while junior Patrik Fischer fell in the first round in his Pac-10 debut. Slovic was the fourth Husky ever to reach the Pac-10 semifinals, and second to reach the final match. Former Husky Alex Vlaski was a three-time finalist (2002, 03, 05) and made the semis in his other appearance (2004). Matt Hanlin (2002) and Eric Drew (1998) both reached the final four of the tournament as well. Washington's best doubles performance was turned in by Slovic and Daniel Chu, as they made the finals in 2005. Additional highlights last season included Kuharszky and sophomore Derek Drabble winning the Pac-10 Invitational Doubles Draw, and Drabble reaching the final of the Invitational Singles Draw. Kuharszky and Drabble will be teamed up again in the main draw this year.

LAST TIME OUT: Washington swept Oregon in its regular season finale and got a win from senior Andy Kuharszky on his Senior Day. Kuharszky fought back from a set down to upend Oregon's Alexander Cornelissen, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 at No. 3 singles, in front of vocal fans that included his mother Andrea all the way from Budapest, Hungary. It was the 86th singles win of his career, tying him with Eric Drew (1996-99) for sixth-place on the career singles wins list. Sophomore Derek Drabble provided the clinching win at No. 4 singles, taking out Geoff Embry, 6-4, 6-2. Drabble trailed 2-4 in the first set before winning 10 of the final 12 games. His win came moments after freshman Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan wrapped up a 6-3, 6-4 victory at No. 2 singles over Francisco Gallardo. Finishing off the sweep was junior Patrik Fischer, who went to three sets for just the third time all season. Fischer, ranked 86th, overcame Marcos Verdasco at No. 1 singles, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 for his 22nd win of the year. Also victorious was junior David Chu, 6-3, 7-6 (1) over Romeo Mortera at No. 5, and freshman Martin Kildahl, who moved to 6-0 in dual play with a 6-4, 6-4 victory at sixth singles. A hard-fought doubles point went Washington's way after freshmen duo Tobi Obenaus and Martin Kildahl clinched with an 8-6 win at No. 3 doubles.

KUHARSZKY BOWS OUT: Senior captain Andy Kuharszky has been a four-year stalwart in the Husky singles and doubles lineups, and made his final home appearance with a win against the Ducks this past 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 his most recent singles win, Kuharszky reached 86 singles wins and also has 78 doubles wins for his career. The 86 wins in singles is tied with Eric Drew (1996-99) for sixth-place on the UW career wins list. Kuharszky is also approaching the doubles wins record of 83, set last year by departing seniors Daniel Chu and Alex Slovic. With 164 combined victories, Kuharszky ranks fourth all-time, 11 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: Despite winning its only match last week, Washington dropped three places in the latest ITA poll to No. 35. 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 23rd-ranked Alabama. All of UW's losses have come to teams currently ranked in the Top-30. Every Pac-10 team except Oregon is currently ranked in the Top-40, led by No. 3 UCLA and No. 7 USC. In the latest individual rankings, junior Patrik Fischer held firm at No. 86, while freshman Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan climbed seven spots to No. 118. Fischer debuted at a career-high No. 77 on March 18, while Nedunchezhiyan's high-water mark was No. 82 on March 4th. 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 20 of UW's 23 matches, Fischer is 11-8 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 18-1 against unranked players based on the current rankings. All of his dual losses have come at the hands of ranked players.

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 await their NCAA Tournament fate, as the brackets are revealed live on ESPNews on Tuesday, April 29, between 11 and 11:30 a.m. Pacific time. Individuals selected to the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships will be revealed on Wednesday, April 30 on www.ncaa.com.

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 233 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.

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