Men's Tennis Readies For Oregon And Fresno State

Feb. 18, 2009

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THIS WEEK: Coming off a bye week, the Washington men's tennis team looks to get on a roll in a pair of crucial non-conference matches at home this weekend. Washington (5-3) hosts Oregon on Friday, Feb. 20, at 5 p.m. in the first of two meetings between the two which does not count towards Pac-10 standings. Sunday, Feb. 22, the 41st-ranked Huskies will play 42nd-ranked Fresno State at 2 p.m. Both matches will be at the Nordstrom Tennis Center and each follow a Husky women's tennis match for fans of both teams.

SCOUTING OREGON: The Ducks are 6-4 and unranked and are in the midst of a lengthy seven-match road trip which began last weekend in Arkansas. Oregon fell to the host Razorbacks, 6-1, then defeated Wichita State, 5-2, to snap a three-match losing skid. All of the Ducks' losses have come to Top-60 opponents. Freshmen Jose Izquierdo and Ayrton Wibowo are a combined 15-5 in dual singles matches thus far. The Ducks have just one senior on their roster, Mike Myrhed. Juniors Marcos Verdasco and Alexander Cornelissen return as UO's top two singles players. Washington had two routine wins over Oregon last season and has won nine straight against its rivals. The UW leads the all-time series 115-6-1. Nils Schyllander is in his third season coaching the men.

SCOUTING FRESNO STATE: Fresno State has played just three matches so far after weather caused the canellation of two matches last weekend. The Bulldogs beat Cal Poly in their opener, then edged SMU, 4-3, in the National Team Indoor Championship Qualifying first round at UCLA. Fresno State fell to the Bruins, 4-1, for its first loss. Washington will need to be sharp in doubles, as Fresno State has the 24th-ranked doubles team of Rudolf Siwy and Mirko Zapletal, and their second and third teams bot scored wins against UCLA as FSU won the doubles point. Siwy is the defending WAC Player of the Year and is ranked 32nd in singles. Fresno State holds a 7-6 edge in the all-time series. Jay Udwadia is in his fifth season as head coach.

LAST TIME OUT: The Huskies played a pair of long and intense matches in the Great Northwest Shootout back on Feb. 6 and 8, defeating Oklahoma, 6-1, and dropping a 4-3 decision to No. 30 Boise State. Despite the lopsided final score against the Sooners, the match lasted nearly four and a half hours with Washington winning three matches in three sets. Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan upset 44th-ranked Andrei Daescu, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 at No. 1 singles, followed by Patrik Fischer coming back to upset 77th-ranked Sergey Avdeyev, 6-7, 6-2, 7-5 at No. 2. The final match point was won by Tobi Obenaus at fifth singles, who outlasted Blake Boswell, 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, and 7-4 in the final tiebreak. On Sunday against the Broncos, Washington lost the doubles point but came back to take a 3-2 lead before Boise State won the final two matches in dramatic third sets. Nedunchezhiyan again toppled a highly-ranked foe, dispatching 22nd-ranked Clancy Shields, 6-3, 6-4. David Chu coasted past Blane Shields at No. 6 singles to complete a 2-0 weekend, and Martin Kildahl pulled away late against James Meredith to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 at No. 3. However, at No. 5 singles 85th-ranked Stanley Sarapanich pulled out a 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 win over Obenaus, and UW's Derek Drabble fell in a third-set tiebreak, 7-4, to Cristian Hodel to give Boise State the win and the tournament title.

NEDUNCHEZHIYAN COMING INTO HIS OWN: Over the past few weeks, Husky sophomore Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan has been playing the best and most consistent tennis of his career. The sophomore from Chennai, India is a team-best 7-1 in dual play and has moved into the No. 1 singles spot and could be staying for quite a while if his recent play is any indication. Nedunchezhiyan suffered his only dual match loss in a third-set super-tiebreak against the nation's third-ranked player, Steven Moneke of Ohio State back on January 25, but the close loss has only seemed to boost his confidence. Since that match Nedunchezhiyan is 4-0, and in his past three matches he's defeated 35th-ranked Jamie Hunt of Georgia, 44th-ranked Andrei Daescu of Oklhoma, and 22nd-ranked Clancy Shields of Boise State. All three players were NCAA Singles Championship participants in 2008. For his wins against Indiana and Georgia, Nedunchezhiyan was named the Pac-10 Men's Tennis Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 26-Feb. 1. The honor was the second of his career, and the sixth all-time for Washington. With new ITA singles rankings scheduled to come out on Thursday, Feb. 19, Nedunchezhiyan is nearly a sure thing to jump back into the national rankings, where he has reached a high of 74th.

UP NEXT: Three of the next four matches will be against Top-20 opponents as the Huskies look to break through against some likely NCAA tournament teams. The men will be in Malibu, Calif., first playing 18th-ranked Michigan on Feb. 27 at 1 p.m. Two days later the Huskies will face 20th-ranked Pepperdine, also scheduled for 1 p.m.

FALL RECAP: The Huskies played a light fall season, with just two tournaments for the majority of the team. One group of Huskies traveled to San Diego for the Bulldog Classic from Oct. 3-5, while Patrik Fischer and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan went to Tulsa, Okla. for the D'Novo ITA All-American Championships from Oct. 6-8. Competing in the qualifying singles draw, both Fischer and Nedunchezhiyan won their initial singles matches, but lost in the next round. Teaming up for doubles, the pair won their first two matches over tandems from Southern Illinois and Tulsa, but came up one win short of making the main draw as they fell to Pepperdine's top-seeded Altmann and Beidas. At the Bulldog Classic, Derek Drabble reached the quarterfinals in singles and in doubles with Martin Kildahl, and redshirt freshman Matt Stith registered his first college wins. The fall season ended with ITA Regionals, where UW excelled in doubles play. Three different Husky doubles duos made the Regional quarterfinals, and Fischer and Nedunchezhiyan advanced to the final match, ultimately coming up short against Cal's Chizever and Zerbini. Ryo Sekiguchi closed his fall season with a flourish, winning six-straight matches to take the consolation singles title.

2009 SEASON PREVIEW: After an influx of six newcomers last season, with nine players in their first or second year on the team, inexperience mixed with talent to produce an up and down season that ended in the first round of the NCAA Championships. This year, having lost only one starter, Andy Kuharszky, the Huskies as a whole are one year older and wiser and hope that their games will reflect that. Washington has seven returning players that started seven or more dual matches last year, led by senior Patrik Fischer, and sophomore Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan. Fischer and Nedunchezhiyan held the top two singles spots last season, with Fischer earning All-Pac-10 Second Team honors and Nedunchezhiyan getting honorable mention. Veterans Derek Drabble and David Chu are back and should be entrenched in the singles lineup, along with sophomore Martin Kildahl, who came on strong at the end of 2008 and could find himself playing much higher in the order. For a complete season preview with head coach Matt Anger's thoughts on the season, visit www.gohuskies.com.

HEAD COACH Matt Anger: The turning point in modern Washington tennis came with the hiring of Matt Anger, now in his 15th season as head coach. Since his arrival, the Huskies have been a model of consistency, and consistently excellent at that. The winningest coach in Washington history, Anger's teams have never once missed the NCAA Championships and have been a fixture in the Top-25 with five runs to the NCAA Round of 16 in this decade alone. Under Anger's watch, Washington has posted a winning record in all of his 14 seasons, and won its first ever Pac-10 title in 2005 as Anger was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year. Furthermore, several of Anger's players have seen tremendous individual success, with seven of the top eight winningest players in UW history competing during his tenure. Five different singles players have earned All-American honors under Anger, 10 different players earned year-end Top-50 rankings, and Alex Vlaski captured the 2003 ITA All-American Championships, the first national title for a Husky since 1924. In addition, Anger is the only active coach who over the past 10 years, has guided three different players to the NCAA Singles Semifinals. Anger played collegiate tennis at USC from 1982-84 and was a three-time All-American, while leading the team to a top-five finish three consecutive years. In 1983, he was a Pac-10 singles finalist and helped lead the Trojans to a third-place NCAA finish. The next season, Anger won the Pac-10 doubles championship, was a Pac-10 singles semifinalist, and helped USC win the conference team title. At the conclusion of his junior season, 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.

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