No. 24 Men's Tennis Hosts Gonzaga This Friday

March 12, 2009

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THIS WEEK: The 24th-ranked Washington men's tennis team closes out a three-match homestand with a dual match against Gonzaga this Friday, March 13 at 5 p.m. The Huskies (9-5) will break for finals week following this match. Admission is free for all spectators with free pizza in-between singles and doubles.

SCOUTING GONZAGA: The Zags are 5-8 thus far and 0-4 in West Coast Conference play. They will play UC Riverside before heading to Seattle. In their most recent match they lost, 6-1, to UC Irvine. Junior Roman Dojcak won at No. 3 singles. Their last four matches have all been in California, but they have come out on the losing end in each outing. Stefan Fedderson is Gonzaga's No. 1 player, and has gone 4-8 in the top spot. Jake Davis owns the most dual wins with six coming at fourth and fifth singles. Washington swept Gonzaga last year in its season-opener, with every match ending in straight sets. Peter MacDonald is in his fourth year coaching the Bulldogs. The UW is 9-0 all-time against Gonzaga.

LAST TIME OUT: The Huskies waged two intense battles at home last weekend, overcoming 24th-ranked Minnesota, 5-2, but falling just short againts No. 36 Texas A&M, 4-3. Against the Golden Gophers on March 6, the Huskies earned the doubles point and built a 3-1 lead in singles play behind straight set wins from David Chu and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan. Senior Patrik Fischer then clinched the match for the Huskies with a 7-5, 6-4 win at No. 1 singles over 48th-ranked Ishay Hadash. Martin Kildahl later added a third-set super-tiebreak win over Sebastian Gallego. Two days later, the Huskies faced an Aggie team that while ranked just 36th at the time has been in the Top-20 for most of the year. Doubles proved crucial, and the Aggies prevailed, 2-1, after a questionable ruling at No. 1 doubles went in their favor and led to the only service break of the match. Despite the deflating doubles loss, the Huskies rallied to take the first three matches in singles play. Chu won again, dominating Marcus Lunt, 6-0, 6-2, and Ryo Sekiguchi earned a 6-3, 6-1 win at sixth singles. Nedunchezhiyan then toppled another Top-25 player, fending off Pollock, 6-3, 7-6 (2) at No. 1 singles. From there though, Texas A&M came back to win the final three matches all in third sets. Tied at 3-3, Alexey Grigorov edged junior Derek Drabble at No. 4 singles, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, to clinch the win.

HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Washington remains in the Top-25 of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings this week, though they slid two spots to 24th. The previous week, The ITA switched its rankings over from polls to a point-per-match computer formula, resulting in a major shakeup in the team rankings. This benefited the Huskies, however, as the men jumped from 41st to a season-high 22nd in one week's time. Individually, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan saw his singles ranking slide a bit to No. 46 in the most recent rankings, down from his career-high No. 31 achieved on Feb. 19. 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 are ranked 66th in doubles, and teamed up again this past weekend for the first time since the fall.

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 12-2 in dual play, picking up two more victories to restart his win streak after it was snapped at seven at Pepperdine. In his most recent match, he defeated 24th-ranked Connor Pollock, the second Top-25 player he's defeated this season. 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. 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. In his past nine matches, Nedunchezhiyan has defeated six ranked opponents, losing just once in that span.

UP NEXT: The Huskies break for finals and then head to Indian Wells, Calif. over spring break to play a neutral site match against 69th-ranked Pacific. That match, set for March 24, will mark the end of UW's non-conference schedule, and Pac-10 play begins March 29 at home against Arizona.

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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