No. 22 Washington Hosts Two Top-40 Slugfests

March 4, 2009

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THIS WEEK: The Husky men's tennis team, back in the Top-25 for the first time this season, hosts two critical non-conference matches this weekend at the Nordstrom Tennis Center. Washington (8-4) jumped up to a season-high No. 22 in this week's ITA rankings. On Friday, the Dawgs will serve it up against 24th-ranked Minnesota at 4 p.m., then face 36th-ranked Texas A&M on Sunday at 12 p.m.

SCOUTING MINNESOTA: The Golden Gophers were unranked at the beginning of the season, but have steadily climbed the rankings and jumped all the way from 48th to 24th this week with the release of the first batch of computer rankings. Minnesota is 10-1 on the year and riding an eight-match winning streak, its longest since 2003. Minnesota's only loss came to Louisville, currently ranked 16th. A big reason for Minnesota's success is freshman Ishay Hadash, who plays No. 1 singles and is the current Big-10 Player of the Week. Hadash is 12-5 overall and ranked 48th, while sophomore Tobias Wernet is 9-1 at No. 2 singles. Wernet and Michael Sicora are ranked 48th in doubles, while Hadash and Phillip Arndt are 80th. UW leads the all-time series 5-3 but lost at Minnesota in 2007, 5-2.

SCOUTING TEXAS A&M: The Aggies have been a Top-20 team throughout the season until the first computer rankings dropped them to their current No. 36 ranking this week. Despite a lower ranking, Texas A&M will still pose a major threat to the Huskies, as they have one of the top doubles teams in the nation and two singles players ranked in the Top-25. Texas A&M is just 3-4 but all four losses have come to teams currently in the Top-25. Washington also needs look no further than a 5-2 loss at College Station, Texas last year for motivation. Derek Drabble and Ryo Sekiguchi earned three set wins for UW's two points against the Aggies last year. Senior Conor Pollock leads A&M and is ranked 24th in singles, while sophomore Wil Spencer has earned himself a No. 22 singles ranking. Sophomore Austin Krajicek is also ranked 107th. Pollock and Krajicek are the No. 6 doubles team, and made the NCAA Semifinals last season.

LAST TIME OUT: Washington split a pair of matches in Malibu, Calif. against Top-20 opponents last week. First came a neutral site match against 18th-ranked Michigan, in which the Huskies came back from a doubles point loss to defeat the Wolverines, 4-2. Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, Patrik Fischer, and Martin Kildahl swept the top three singles matches, and Ryo Sekiguchi won at No. 5 singles. Nedunchezhiyan's win came against 109th-ranked Jason Jung, while Fischer defeated 100th-ranked Andrew Mazlin. Kildahl clinched the win with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory against Mike Scroczynski at third singles. Two days later, the Huskies struggled on 15th-ranked Pepperdine's home courts, as the Waves swept the Huskies. Fischer, Sekiguchi, and Derek Drabble all went three sets in their singles matches but were unable to pull out a win. Nedunchezhiyan had his personal seven-match win streak snapped by 44th-ranked Bassam Beidas at No. 1 singles.

HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: The Intercollegiate Tennis Association switched its rankings over from polls to a point-per-match computer formula this week, resulting in a major shakeup in the team rankings. This benefited the Huskies, however, as the men jumped from 41st to 22nd in one week's time. This is the team's highest ranking this season and highest since a No. 20 ranking last year. Individually, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan saw his singles ranking slide a bit to No. 46 in the computer rankings, down from his career-high No. 31 ranking last week. Nedunchezhiyan has bounced around a bit this season, starting at 74th in the fall, then dropping out completely at the beginning of the dual season, before shooting up to 31st following his 7-1 start. For more on his season check the note below. Nedunchezhiyan and Patrik Fischer continue to hold a doubles ranking despite not having played together since the fall. This week they come in at No. 66.

NEDUNCHEZHIYAN CONTINUES TO ROLL: In just over a month's time, Husky sophomore Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan has taken his still still young career to a higher level. The sophomore from Chennai, India is a team-best 10-2 in dual play, moving into the No. 1 singles spot on Feb. 6 and showing that he could be staying for quite a while based on his recent play. Nedunchezhiyan suffered his first 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 only seemed to boost his confidence. Nedunchezhiyan won seven straight following that match, and defeated five ranked opponents including four in the Top-50 opponents. During the run he defeated 35th-ranked Jamie Hunt of Georgia, 44th-ranked Andrei Daescu of Oklahoma, 22nd-ranked Clancy Shields of Boise State, 33rd-ranked Rudolf Siwy of Fresno State, and 109th-ranked Jason Jung of Michigan. Four of those 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. His win streak was stopped last Sunday by 44th-ranked Bassam Beidas on the road at Pepperdine, but Nedunchezhiyan remains on track for a possible NCAA Singles Championships bid where he will try to earn his first All-America honors.

UP NEXT: Washington will head into spring break with a home match against Gonzaga set for next Friday, March 13, at 5 p.m. UW will then close out its non-conference schedule with a neutral match against Pacific in Indian Wells, Calif. on March 24.

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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