Huskies Head To Malibu For Top-20 Showdowns

Feb. 26, 2009

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THIS WEEK: Opportunities abound for the Washington men's tennis team as the 41st-ranked Huskies continue to push for a marquee win this weekend in Malibu, Calif. The Huskies (7-3) will get two cracks at Top-20 teams, beginning with a neutral site match against 18th-ranked Michigan this Friday, Feb. 27 at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 1, Washington will look to upend 15th-ranked Pepperdine on the Waves' home courts at 1 p.m.

SCOUTING MICHIGAN: The 18th-ranked Wolverines won their first five matches, but have since dropped five of six to sit at 6-5 heading into Friday's dual. Michigan and Pepperdine just played this Wednesday, with Pepperdine picking up a 5-2 victory. Michigan got wins at second doubles and fifth and sixth singles. UM qualified for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships main draw, but went 0-3 in Chicago, losing to No. 2 Texas (4-0), No. 7 Florida (4-1), and No. 16 Florida State (4-3). Earlier in the season, Michigan notched a 5-2 win over the Pac-10's California. Sophomore Jason Jung is Michigan's No. 1 singles, player and is ranked 109th, although senior Andrew Mazlin is ranked slightly higher at No. 100. Jung and Mike Sroczynski are the 27th-ranked doubles tandem. Michigan won the only previous meeting between the two schools.

SCOUTING PEPPERDINE: The Waves are 8-5 and as mentioned above are coming off a 5-2 win over Michigan on Wednesday. Pepperdine is ranked 15th despite the five losses as they have played a very challenging schedule and have posted wins over 19th-ranked Alabama, 20th-ranked Tulsa, 25th-ranked Alabama, and now 18th-ranked Michigan. Four of Pepperdine's losses have come to teams currently ranked in the top-11. The Huskies and Waves have played a pair of common opponents. Boise State upset Pepperdine, 6-1, in Malibu and edged the Huskies, 4-3, in Seattle. Both teams also fell to Ohio State, with UW losing 6-1 and Pepperdine falling, 4-2. Last season, Washington defeated Pepperdine in Seattle for one of its biggest wins. Patrik Fischer upset 19th-ranked Andre Begemann, and Derek Drabble clinched the win with a 6-1, 6-7, 6-4 victory at No. 4 singles over Johannes de Villiers. Junior Bassam Beidas is Pepperdine's top singles player, and made the NCAA Quarterfinals last year. Beidas is ranked 44th currently. Senior Omar Altmann actually outranks Beidas, as he comes in at No. 26. Freshman Alex Llompart is also ranked 114th. Beidas and Altmann are ranked 12th in doubles. The two teams are even in the all-time series, 3-3.

LAST TIME OUT: The Huskies earned two big nonconference wins last weekend, sweeping Oregon last Friday then defeating 42nd-ranked Fresno State on Sunday, 5-2. Washington did not drop a set in singles or doubles in taking out the Ducks. The biggest highlight was sophomore Brad Bator making his first career singles start, and defeating Duncan MacDonald-Korth, 6-2, 6-2 in the No. 6 singles spot. Bator, a navite of Bothell, becomes the first Washington state native to win a dual singles match for the Huskies since Chris Floyd in 2005. On Sunday, the Dawgs beat the Bulldogs in a tough match that was closer than the score shows. UW led 3-2 but Patrik Fischer got pushed to a third set at No. 2 singles, and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan was trying to keep his No. 1 singles match from also spilling over into a third set. Nedunchezhiyan came through, defeating 33rd-ranked Rudolf Siwy, 6-2, 7-5, to clinch the win. Fischer went on to win as well in a super-tiebreak. The Huskies also got wins from Martin Kildahl at third singles and Ryo Sekiguchi at No. 6. Sekiguchi was playing his first match since the end of January, yet won convincingly.

NEDUNCHEZHIYAN CONTINUES TO ROLL: Over the past month, 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 9-1 in dual play and has moved into the No. 1 singles spot on Feb. 6 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 6-0, and has defeated Top-50 opponents in four of his past five matches. During the run he's defeated 35th-ranked Jamie Hunt of Georgia, 44th-ranked Andrei Daescu of Oklahoma, 22nd-ranked Clancy Shields of Boise State, and 33rd-ranked Rudolf Siwy of Fresno State. All four 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. When the new individual ITA raknings were unveiled last week, Nedunchezhiyan shot from unranked all the way up to No. 31. His previous career-high had been 74th.

UP NEXT: The Huskies will return home for a three-match homestand that once again promises some very close, intense matches. On March 6, 48th-ranked Minnesota visits the Nordstrom for a 4 p.m. dual. The Gophers were unranked to start the year but have risen quickly up the rankings. Two days later, 13th-ranked Texas A&M will be in town for a 12 noon match. The Aggies will be the fifth Top-20 team Washington has played.

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.

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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